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Author's Edition, Revised and Enlarged 


16 Cobancho, Tokyo 


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— « That way 
Over the mountain, which who stands upon, 
Is apt to doubt if it be indeed a road ; 
While if he views it from the waste itself, 
Up goes the line there, plain from base to brow, 
Not vague, mistakable ! What's a break or two 
Seen from the unbroken desert either side? 
And then (to bring in fresh philosophy) 
What if the breaks themselves should prove at last 
The most consummate of contrivances 
To train a man's eye, teach him what is faith ? " 
— Robert Browning, 

Bishop Blougranis Apology. 

" There are, if I may so say, three powerful spirits, which 
liave from time to time, moved on the face of the waters, and 
given a predominant impulse to the moral sentiments and 
-energies of mankind. These arc the spirits of liberty, of reli- 
;gion, and of honor." 

— Haixam, 

Europe in the Middle Ages. 

*^ Chivalry is itself the pocti-y of life." 


Philosophy op History, 


About ten years ago, while spending a 
few days under the hospitable roof of the 
distinguished Belgian jurist, the lamented 
M. de Laveleye, our conversation turned, 
during one of our rambles, to the subject of 
religion. ** Do you mean to say," asked the 
venerable professor, " that you have no reli- 
gious instruction in your schools ?" On my 
replying in the negative he suddenly lialted 
in astonishment, and in a voice which I shall 
not easily forget, he repeated " No reHglon ! 
How do you impart moral education?" The 
question stunned me at the time. I could 
give no ready answer, for the moral precepts 
I learned in my childhood days, were not 
given in schools ; and not until I began to 
analyze the different elements that formed 
my notions of right and wrong, did I find 
that it was Bushido that breathed them Into 
my nostrils. 

The direct inception of this little book is 


due to the frequent queries put by my wife 
as to the reasons why such and such ideas 
and customs prevail in Japan. 

In my attempts to give satisfactory replies 
to M. de Laveleye and to my wife, I found 
that without understanding Feudalism and 
Bushido,* the moral ideas of present Japan 
are a sealed volume. 

Taking advantage of enforced idleness on 
account of long illness, I put down in the 
order now presented to the public some of 
the answers given in our household conver- 
sation. They consist mainly of what I was 
taught and told in my youthful days, when 
Feudalism was still in force. 

Between Lafcadio Hearn and Mrs. Hugh 
Fraser on one side and Sir Ernest Satow 
and Professor Chamberlain on the other, it is 
indeed discouraging to write anything Japa- 
nese in English, The only advantage I have 
over them is that I can assume the attitude 
of a personal defendant, while these distin- 

* Pronounced Bo6-shee-doh\ In putting Japanese words 
and names into English, Hepburn's rule is followed, that the 
vowels should be used as in European languages, and the 
consonants as in English. 

guished writers are at best solicitors and 
attorneys. I have often thought, — '* Had I 
their gift of language, I would present the 
cause of Japan in more eloquent terms !" 
But one who speaks in a borrowed tongue 
should be thankful if he can just make 
himself intelligible. 

All through the discourse I have tried to 
illustrate whatever points I have made with 
parallel examples from European history 
and literature, believing that these will aid 
in bringing the subject nearer to the com- 
prehension of foreign readers. 

Should any of my allusions to religious 
subjects and to religious workers be thought 
slighting, I trust my attitude towards Chris- 
tianity itself will not be questioned. It is 
with ecclesiastical methods and with the 
forms which obscure the teachings of Christ, 
and not with the teachings themselves, that 
I have little sympathy. I believe in the 
religion taught by Him and handed down to 
us in the New Testament, as well as in the 
law written in the heart. Further, I believe 
that God hath made a testament which 
may be called "old" with every people 

and nation, — Gentile or Jew, Christian or 
Heathen. As to the rest of my theology, 
I need not impose upon the patience of the 

In concluding this preface, I wish to ex- 
press my thanks to my friend Anna C. 
Hartshorne for many valuable suggestions 
and for the characteristically Japanese 
design made by her for the cover of this 


Malvern, Pa,, Twelfth Month, i8gg. 



Since its first publication in Philadelphia, 
more than six years ago, this little book has 
had an unexpected history. The Japanese 
reprint has passed through eight editions, 
the present thus being its tenth appearance 
in the English language. Simultaneously 
with this will be issued an American and 
English edition, through the publishing- 
house of Messrs. George H. Putnam's Sons, 
of New York. 

In the meantime, Bushido has been trans- 
lated into Mahratti by Mr. Dev of Khandesh, 
into German by Friiulein Kaufmann of Ham- 
burg, into Bohemian by Mr. Hora of Chicago, 
into Polish by the Society of Science and 
Life in Lemberg, — although this PoHsh 
edition has been censured by the Russian 
Government. It is now being rendered into 
Norwegian and into French. A Chinese 

translation is under contemplation. A 
Russian officer, now a prisoner in Japan, has 
a manuscript in Russian ready for the press. 
A part of the volume has been brought 
before the Hungarian public and a detailed 
review, almost amounting to a commentary, 
has been published in Japanese. Full 
scholarly notes for the help of younger 
students have been compiled by my friend 
Mr. H. Sakurai, to whom I also owe much 
for his aid in other ways. 

I have been more than gratified to feel 
that my humble work has found sympathetic 
readers in widely separated circles, showing 
that the subject matter is of some interest to- 
the world at large. Exceedingly flattering 
is the news that has reached me from official 
sources, that President Roosevelt has done 
it undeserved honor by reading it and dis- 
tributing several dozens of copies among his 

In making emendations and additions for 
the present edition, I have largely confined 
them to concrete examples. I still continue 
to regret, as I indeed have never ceased to 
do, my inability to add a chapter on Filial 

Piety, which is considered one of the two 
wdieels of the chariot of Japanese ethics — 
Loyalty being the other. My inabihty is 
due rather to my ignorance of the Western 
sentiment in regard to this particular virtue, 
than to ignorance of our own attitude 
towards it, and I cannot draw comparisons 
satisfying to my own mind. I hope one day 
to enlarge upon this and other topics at 
some length. All the subjects that are 
touched upon in these pages are capable of 
further amplification and discussion ; but I 
do not now see my way clear to make this 
volume larger than it is. 

This Preface would be incomplete and 
unjust, if I were to omit the debt I owe to 
my wife for her reading of the proof-sheets, 
for helpful suggestions, and, above all, for 
her constant encouragement. 

I. N 

Fifth Month twenty-second, igo^. 


Eushido as an Ethical System i 

Sources of Busliido 9 

Rectitude or Justice 20 

Courage, the Spirit of Daring and Bear- 
ing... .„ 25 

Benevolence, the Feeling of Distress 33 

Po 1 i t e n e s s 4 5 

Veracity or Truthfulness 56 

Honor 65 

The Duty of Loyalty 74 

Education and Training of a Samurai 85 

Se 1 f- Co ntrol 93 

The Institutions of Suicide and Redress 100 

The Sword, the Soul of the Samurai 12 t 

The Training and Position of Woman.. .127 

The Influence of Bushido 145 

Is Bushido Still Alive? 153 

The Future of Bushido „ 166 


Chivalry is a flower no less indigenous to 
the soil of Japan than its emblem, the cherry- 
blossom ; nor is it a dried-up specimen of an 
antique virtue preserved in the herbarium of 
our history. It is still a living object of 
power and beauty among us ; and if it 
assumes no tangible shape or form, it not 
the less scents the moral atmosphere, and 
makes us aware that we are still under its 
potent spell. The conditions of society 
which brought it forth and nourished it have 
long disappeared; but as those far-off stars 
which once were and are not, still continue 
to shed their rays upon us, so the light of 
chivalry, which was a child of feudalism, still 
illuminates our moral path, surviving its 
mother institution. It is a pleasure to me to 
reflect upon this subject in the language of 
Burke, who uttered the well-known touching 
eulogy over the neglected bier of its Euro 
pean prototype. 

It argues a sad defect of information 
<:oncerning the Far East, when so erudite a 
scholar as Dr. George Miller did not hesitate 
to affirm that chivalry, or any other similar 
institution, has never existed either among 
the nations of antiquity or among the 
modern Orientals.^ Such ignorance, how- 
ever, is amply excusable, as the third edition 
of the good Doctor's work appeared the 
same year that Commodore Perry was 
knocking at the portals of our cxclusivism. 
More than a decade later, about the time 
that our feudalism was in the last throes of 
existence, Carl Marx, writing his " Capital," 
called the attention of his readers to the 
peculiar advantage of studying the social 
and political institutions of feudalism, as 
then to be seen in living form only in Japan. 
I would likewise invite the Western historical 
and ethical student to the study of chivalry 
in the Japan of the present. 

Enticing as is a historical disquisition 
on the comparison between European and 
Japanese feudalism and chivalry, it is not 

* History Phi /oso/>/ii tally Illustrated, (31-d Ed. 1853), Vol. 
II, p. 2. 

the purpose of this paper to enter into it at 
length. My attempt is rather to relate,^;'^/- 
ly^ the origin and sources of our chivalry ;. 
secondly, its character and teaching ; thirdly y 
its influence among the masses ; dind,fot(rthlyy. 
the continuity and permanence of its in- 
fluence. Of these several points, the first 
will be only brief and cursory, or else I 
should have to take my readers into the 
devious paths of our national history ; the 
second will be dwelt upon at greater length, 
as being most likely to interest students of 
International Ethics and Comparative Ethol- 
ogy in our ways of thought and action ; and 
the rest will be dealt with as corollaries. 

The Japanese word which I have roughly . 
rendered Chivalry, is, in the original, more 
expressive than Horsemanship. Bii-shi-da 
mean s literally Mihtary- Knight- Way s— the 
w^ays which fighting nobles should observe 
in their daily life as well as in their vocation ; 
in a word, the "Precepts of Knighthood,'*^ 
the noblesse oblige of the warrior class. 

Having thus given its literal significance, I 
may be allowed henceforth to use the word 
in the original. The use of the original 

term is also advisable for this reason, that 
a teaching so circumscribed and unique, 
engendering a cast of mind and character 
so peculiar, so local, must wear the badge ot 
its singularity on its face ; then, some words 
have a national timbre so expressive of race 
characteristics that the best of translators 
can do them but scant justice, not to say- 
positive injustice and grievance. Who can 
improve by translation what the German 
*' GeiniitJi " signifies, or who does not feel 
the difference between the two words verbal- 
ly so closely allied as the English gentlejjian 
and the French gentilhomme ? 

Bushido, then, is the code of moral 
principles which the knights were required 
or instructed to observe. I t is not a written 
code : at best it consists of a few maxim s 
handed down from mouth to mouth or 
coming from the pen of some well-known 
warrior or savan t. More frequently it is 
a code unuttered and unwritten, possessing 
^11 the more the powerfu l sanction of verita- 
ble deed , and of a law written on the fleshly 
tablets of the heart. It was founded not on 
the creation of one brain, however able, or 

on the life of a single personage, however 
renowned. It was an organic growth of 
decades and centuries of military career. 
It, perhaps, fills the same position in the 
history of ethics that the English Constitu- 
tion does in political history; yet it has had 
nothing to compare with the Magna Charta 
or the Habeas Corpus Act. True, early in 
the seventeenth century Military Statutes 
{Bitke Hattd) were promulgated ; but their 
thirteen short articles were taken up mostly 
with marriages, castles, leagues, etc., and 
didactic regulations were but meagerly 
touched upon. We cannot, therefore, point 
out any definite time and place and say, 
"Here is its fountain head," Only as it 
attains consciousness in t he feudal age, its 
origin, in respect to time, may be identified 
with feudalism . But feudalism itself is 
woven of many threads, and Bushido shares 
its intricate nature. As in England the 
political institutions of feudalism may be 
said to date from the Norman Conquest, so 
we may say that in Japan its rise was 
simultaneous with the ascendency of Yori- 
tomo, late in the twelfth century. As, 

however, in England, we find the social 
elements of feudah'sm far back in the period 
previous to WiUiam the Conqueror, so, too, 
the germs of feudahsm in Japan had been 
long existent before the period I have" 

Again, in Japan as in Europe, whe n 
feudalism was formally ijiaugurated, the 
professional class of warrio rs natu rally cam e 
into prominence. These were known as 
^nniurm\ ^ -p eanin^; literally, like the old 
Ejiglish cniht (knecht, knight), guard s or 
attendants — resembling in character the 
soldiirii, whom Caesar mentioned as existing 
in Aquitania, or the comitati, who, according 
to Tacitus, followed Germanic chiefs in his 
time; or, to take a still later parallel, the 
milites medii that one reads about in the 
history of Mediaeval Europe. A Sinico- 
Japanese word Bu-ke or Bu-shi (Fighting 
Knights) was also adopted in common use. 
They were a privileged class, and must 
originally have been a rough breed who 
made fighting their vocation. This class 
was naturally recruited, in a long period of 
constant warfare, from the manliest and the 

most adventurous, and all the while the 
process of elimination went on, the timid 
and the feeble being sorted out, and only 
**a rude race, all masculine, with brutish 
strength," to borrow Emerson's phrase, 
surviving to form families and the ranks ot 
the samurai. Coming to profess great honor 
and great privileges, and correspondingly 
great responsibilities, they soon felt the need 
of a common standard of behavior , especially 
as they were always on a belligerent footing 
and belonged to different clans. Just as 
physicians limit competition among them- 
selves by professional courtesy, just as 
lawyers sit in courts of honor in cases of 
violated etiquette, so must also warriors 
possess some resort for final judgment on 
their misdemeanors. 

Fair pl av in fight ! What fertile germs 
of morality lie in this primitive sense of 
savagery and childhood. Is it not the root 
of all military and civic virtues ? We smile 
(as if we had outgrown it ! ) at the boyish 
desire of the small Britisher, Tom Brown, 
" to leave behind him the name of a fellow 
who never bullied a little boy or turned his 

back on a big one." And yet, who does 
not know that this desire is the corner-stone 
on which moral structures of mighty dimen- 
sions can be reared ? May I not go even 
so far as to say that the gentlest and most 
peace-loving of religions endorses this 
aspiration ? This desire of Tom's is the 
basis on which the greatness of England 
is largely built, and it will not take us long 
to discover that Biishido does not stand on 
a lesser pedestal. If fighting in itself, be it 
offensive or defensive, is, as Quakers rightly 
testify, brutal and wrong, we can still say 
with Lessing, " We know from what failings 
our virtue springs." * ** Sneaks " and " cow- 

* Ruskin was one of the most gentle-hearted and peace 
loving men that ever lived. Yet he believed in war with 
all the fervor of a worshiper of the strenuous life. " When 
I tell you," he says in the Crown of Wild Olive, " that war is 
the foundation of all the arts, I mean also that it is the 
foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men. It 
is very strange to me to discover this, and very dreadful, 
but I saw it to be quite an undeniable fact. » * *f I found 
in brief, that all great nations learned their truth of word 
and sti-ength of thought in war ; that they were nourished in 
war and wasted by peace, taught by war and deceived by 
peace ; trained by war and betiayed by peace ; in a word, 
that they \^ ere born in war and expired in peace." 


ards'* are epithets ot the worst oppro- 
brium to healthy, simple natures. Childhood 
begins life with these notions, and knight- 
hood also ; but, as life grows larger and 
its relations many-sided, the early faith seeks 
sanction from higher authority and more 
rational sources for its own justification, 
satisfaction and development. If military 
interests had operated alone, without higher 
moral support, how far short of chivalry 
would the ideal of knighthood have fallen ! 
In Europe, Christianity, interpreted with 
concessions convenient to chivalry, infused 
it nevertheless with spiritual data. " Reli- 
gion, war and glory were the three souls of 
a perfect Christian knight," says Lamartine. 
In Japan there were several 


of which I may begin with(Buddhism^ It 
furnished a sense of calm trust in Fate, a 
quiet submission to the inevitable, that stoic 
composure in sight of danger or calamity, 
that disdain of life and frien dliness with 
death. A foremost teacher of swordsman- 

ship, when he saw his pupil master the 
utmost of his art, told him, " Beyond this 
my instruction must give way to Zen teach - 
ing.*' " Zen 'V is the Japanese equivalent for 
the Dhyana, which " represents human effort 
to reach through meditation zones of thought 
beyond the range of verbal expression."* 
Its method is contemplation, and its purport, 
as far as I understand it, to be convinced of 
a principle that underlies all phenome na, 
and, if it can, of the Absolute itself, and thus 
to put oneself in harmony with this Absolute. 
Thus defined, the teaching was more than 
the dogma of a sect, and whoever attains to 
the perception of the Absolute raises h imself 
above mundane things and awakes, ** to a 
new Heaven and a new Earth." 

What Fn HHhign i failed to ^iveAShintoJ sm 
offered in abundance . Such loyalty to the 
sovereign, such reverence for ancestral 
memory, and such filial piety as are not 
taught by any other creed, were inculcated 
by the Shinto doctrines, imparting passivity 
to the otherwise arrogant character of the 
samurai. Shinto theolog y has no place for 

♦ Lafcadio Hearn, Exotics and Retrospectives^ p. 84. 


the dogma of " original sin." On the 
contrary, it believes in the innate goodness 
and God-like purity of the human soul, 
adoring it as the adytum from which divine 
oracles are proclaimed. Everybody has 
observed that the Shinto shrines are co n- 
spicuously devoid of objects and instruments 
of worship , and that a plain mirror hung 
in the sanctury forms the essential part 
of its furnishing. The presence of this 
article is .'easy to explain : it typifies th e 
human heart, which, when perfectly placid 
and clear, reflects the very image of the 
Deity. When you stand, therefore, in front 
of the shrine to worship, you see your own 
image reflected on its shining surface, and 
the act of worship is tantamount to the old 
Delphic injunction, " Know Thyself." But 
self-knowledge does not imply, either in the 
Greek or Japanese teaching, knowledge of 
the physical part of man, not his anatomy or 
his psycho-physics; knowledge was to be of 
a moral kind , the introspection of our moral 
nature. Mommsen, comparing the Greek 
and the Roman, says that when the former 
worshiped he raised his eyes to heaven, for 


his prayer was contemplation, while the 
latter veiled his head, for his was reflection. 
Essentially like the Roman conception of 
religion, our reflection brought into promi- 
nence not so much the moral as the national 
consciousness of the individual. Its nature- 
worship endeared the country to our inmost 
souls, while its ancestor-worship, tracing 
from lineage to lineage, made the Imperial 
family the fountain-head of the whole nation. 
To us the country is more than land and 
soil from which to mine gold or to reap 
grain — it is the sacred abode of the gods, 
the spirits of our forefathers : to us the 
Emperor is more than the Arch Constable 
of a Rechtsstaat, or even the Patron of a 
Culturstaat — he is the bodily representative 
of Heaven on earth, blending in his person 
its power and its mercy. If what M. 
Boutmy^ says is true of English royalty — 
that it ** is not only the image of authority,. 
but the author and symbol of national 
unity," as I believe it to be, doubly and 
trebly may this be afiirmed of royalty in 

• The English People, p. i88. 


The tenets of Shintoism cover the two 

jprcdominating features of the emotional 
Jife of our rac e — Patriotism and Loyalty. 
Arthur May Knapp very truly says : " In 
Hebrew literature it is often difficult to tell 
whether the writer is speaking of God or 
of the Commonwealth; of heaven or of 
Jerusalem ; of the Messiah or of the nation 
itself." * A similar confusion may be 
noticed in the nomenclature of our national 
faith. I said confusion, because it will be so 
deemed by a logical intellect on account 
of its verbal ambiguity ; still, being a frame- 
work of national instinct and race feelings, 
Shintoism never pretends to a systematic 
philosophy or a rational theology. This 
religion — or, is it not more correct to say, 
the race emotions which this religion 
expressed.-* — thoroughly imbued Bushid o 
with loyalty to the sovereign and love o f 
C Duntry. The se acted more a g_imp ulses 
t han as do _ctrlng& ; for Shintoism, unlike the 
Mediaeval Christian Church, prescribed to its 
votaries scarcely any credenda^ furnishing 
them at the same time with age nda of a 
* ^' Feudal and Modern Jajban" Vol. I, p. 183. 


straightforward and simple type. 

As to striptly ethi^l doctrines, the 
teachings of vConfuciu^^ were the mo st 
prolific source of Bushido . His enuncia- 
tion of the five moral relations between 
master and servant (the governing and 
the governed), father and son , husband 
and wife, older and younger brother , and 
between friend and friend^ was but a con- 
firmation of what the race instinct had 
recognized before his writings were intro- 
duced from China. The (calm^benignant, 
and worldly-wise characterof his politico- 
ethical precepts was particularly well suited 
to the samurai, who formed the ruling class. 
His aristocratic ana conservative tone was 
well adapted to the requirements of these 
warrior statesmen. Next__tg__C.Qnfucius, 
Menciusy exercised an immense_authority 
over Bushido. His forcible and often quite 
democratic theories were exceedingly tak- 
ing to sympathetic natures, and they were 
even thought dangerous to, and subversive 
of, the existing social order, hence his 
works were for a long time under cen- 
sure. Still, the words of this master mind 

found permanent lodgment in the heart of_^^^ 
the samurai. 

The writings ot Confuciu^ and VMenciusi/ 
formed the principal^ text-books for youths^ 
and the highest authority in discussion 
among the old. A mere acquaintance with 
the classics of these two sages was held, 
however, in no high esteem. A common 
proverb ridicules one who has only an 
intellectual knowledge of Confucius, as a 
man ever studious but ignorant of Analects, 
A typical samurai calls a literary savant a 
book-smelling sot. Another compares learn- 
ing to an ill-smelling vegetable that must 
be boiled and boiled before it is fit for use. 
A man who has read a little smells a little 
pedantic, and a man who has read much 
smells yet more so ; both are alike un- 
pleasant. The writer meant thereby that 
knowledge becomes really such only when 
it is assimilated in the mind of the learner 
and shows in his character. An intellectual 
specialist was considered a machine. 
Inte llect itself w as considered su bord inate 
to ethical emotion. Man and the universe 
were conceived to be alike spiritual and 


ethical. Bushido could not accept the 
judgment of Huxley, that the cosmic 
process was unmoral. 

Bushido made light of knowle dge as sucli. 
It was not pursued as an end in itself, but 
as a means to the attainment of wisdom . 
Hence, he who stopped short of this end 
was regarded no higher than a convenient 
machine, which could turn out poems and 
maxims at bidding. Thus, kn owledge was 
conceived as identical with it s practica l 
application in life ; and this Socratic doctrine 
found its greatest exponentun the Chinese 
philosopher, (Wan Yang Ming^j who never 
wearies of repeating, *' To know and to act 
are one and the same. " 

I beg leave for a moment's digression 
while I am on this subject, inasmuch as 
some of the noblest types of biishi were 
strongly influenced by the teachings of this 
sage. Western readers will easily recognize 
in his writings many parallels to the New 
Testament. Making allowance for the 
terms peculiar to either teaching, the 
passage, " Seek ye first the kingdom of 
God and his righteousness; and all these 


things shall be added unto you," conveys 
a thought that may be found on almost 
any page of Wan Yang Ming. A Japanese 
disciple * of his says — " The lord of heaven 
and earth, of all living beings, dwelling in 
the heart of man, becomes his mind 
(Kokord) ; hence a mind is a living thing, 
and is ever luminous:" and again, ''The 
spiritual light of our essential being is pure, 
and is not affected by the will of man. 
Spontaneously springing up in our mind, 
it shows what is right and wrong : it is 
then called conscience ; it is even the light 
that proceedeth from the god of heaven." 
How very much do these words sound 
like some passages from Isaac Pennington 
or other philosophic mystics ! I am inclined 
to think that the Japanese mind, as express- 
ed in the simple tenets of the Shinto 
religion, was particularly open to the 
reception of Yang Ming's precepts. He 
carried his doctrine of the infallibility of 
conscience to extreme transcendentalism, 
attributing to it the faculty to perceive, 
not only the distinction between right and 

* Miwa Shissai. 


wrong, but also the nature ot psychical 
facts and physical phenomena. He went 
as far as, if not farther than, Berkeley and 
Fichte, in Idealism, denying the existence 
of things outside of human ken. If his 
system had all the logical errors charged 
to Solipsism, it had all the efficacy of 
■strong conviction and its moral import 
in developing individuality o£ ^character 
and equanimity of temper cannot be gain- 

Thus, whatever the sources, the essential 
principles which Bushido imbibed from them 
and assimilated to itself, were few and 
simple. Few and simple as these were, 
they were sufficient to furnish a safe conduct 
of life even through the unsafest days of the 
most unsettled period of our nation's history. 
The wholesome unsophisticated nature of 
our warrior ancestors derived ample food for 
their spirit from a sheaf of commonplace 
and fragmentary teachings, gleaned as it 
were on the highways and byways of 
ancient thought, and, stimulated by the 
-demands of the age, formed from these 
gleanings a new and unique type of manhood. 


An acute French savant^ M. de la Mazellere,. 
thus sums up his impressions of the six- 
teenth century : — " Toward the middle of 
the sixteenth century, all is confusion in 
Japan, in the government, in society, in 
the church. But the civil wars, the manners 
returning to barbarism, the necessity for 
each to execute justice for himself, — these 
formed men comparable to those Italians of 
the sixteenth century, in whom Taine praises 
* the vigorous initiative, the habit of sudden 
resolutions and desperate undertakings, the 
grand capacity to do and to suffer.' In^ 
Japan as in Italy ' the rude manners of the 
Middle Ages made of man a superb animal, 
wholly militant and wholly resistant.' And 
this is why the sixteenth century displays in 
the highest degree the principal qualitY of 
the Japajiese race, that great d iversity 
which one finds there between minds 
{esprits) as well as between tennperaments. 
While in India and even in China men seem 
to differ chiefly in degree of energy or 
intelligence, in Japan they differ by £ rigr 
inality of char acter as well. Now, In- 
divid uaIIty~TsThe sign of superior races- 


and of civilizations already developed. It 
we make use ot an expression dear to 
Nietzche, we might say that in Asia, to 
speak of humanity is to speak of its plains; 
in Japan as in Europe, one represents it 
above all by its mountains." 

To the pervading characteristics of the 
men of whom M. de la Mazeliere writes, 
let us now address ourselves. I shall begin 


the most cogent precept in the code of the 
samurai. Nothing is more loathsome to 
him than underhand dealings and crooked 
undertakings. The conception of Re ctitude 
may be erroneous — it may be narrow. A 
well-known bushi defines it as a power 
of resolution ; — " Rectit ude is the power 
of deciding up on a certain course of con- 
duct in accordance with reason, without 

wavering ; — to die when it is right to die, to 
strike when to strike is right." Another 
speaks of it in the following terms: "Recti- 
tude is the bone that gives firmness and 

stature. As without bones the head cannot 
rest on the top of the spine, nor hands move 
nor feet stand, so without rectitude neither 
ta.lent nor learning can make of a human 
frame a samurai. With it the lack of ac- 
complishments is as notliing." Mencius c alls 
Benevolence man's mind , and Rectitude or 
Righteousness his path . " How lamentable," 
he exclaims, "is it to neglect the path and 
not pursue it, to lose the mind and not 
know to seek it again ! When men's fowls 
and dogs are lost, they know to seek for 
them again, but they lose their mind and do 
not know to seek for it." Have w^e not here 
"as in a glass darkly" a parable propound- 
"Cd three hundred years later in another 
clime and by a greater Teacher, who 
called Himself the Way of Righteousness, 
through whom the lost could be found } 
But I stray from my point. Righteousness, 
according to Mencius, is a straight and 
narrow path which a man ought to take to 
regain the lost paradise. 

Even in the latter days of feudalism, when 
the long continuance of peace brought lei- 
sure into the life of the warrior class, and 

with it dissipations of all kinds and gentle 
accomplishments, the epithet Gishi (a man 
of rectitude) was considered superior ta 
any name that signified mastery of learning 
or art. The Forty-seven Faithfuls — of whom 
so much is made in our popular education — 
are known in common parlance as the Forty- 
seven Gishi. 

In times when cunning artifice was liable 
to pass for military tact and downright 
falsehood for ruse de guerre^ this manly 
virtue, frank and honest, was a jewel that 
shone the brightest and was most highly 
praised. Rectitude is a twin brother to 
Valor, another martial virtue. But before 
proceeding to speak of Valor, let me linger 
a little while on what I may term a deriva- 
tion from Rectitude, which, at first deviating 
slightly from its original, became more and 
more removed from it, until its meaning was 
perverted in the popular acceptance. I 
speak oi Gi-riy literally the Right Reason,, 
but which came in time to mean a vague 
sense of duty which public opinion expected 
an incumbent to fulfil. In its original and 
unalloyed sense, it meant duty, pure and 


simple, — hence, we speak of the Girl we 
owe to parents, to superiors, to inferiors, to 
society at large, and so forth. In these 
instances Girl is duty ; for what else is duty 
than what Right Reason demands and 
commands us to do. Should not Right 
Reason be our categorical imperative ? 

Giri primarily meant no more than duty^_ 
and I dare say its etymology was derived 
from the fact that in our conduct, say to our 
parents, though love should be the only 
motive, lacking that, there must be some 
other authority to enforce filial piety ; and 
they formulated this authority in Giri. Very 
rightly did they formulate this authority — 
Giii — since if love does not rush to deeds of 
virtue, recourse must be had to man's intel- 
lect and his reason must be quickened to 
convince him of the necessity of actnig 
aright. The same is true of any other moral 
obligation. The instant Duty becomes 
onerous. Right Reason steps in to prevent 
our shirking it. Giri thus understood is a 
severe taskmaster, with a birch-rod in his 
hand to make sluggards perform their part. 
It is a secondary power in ethics ; as a 

. 23 

motive it is infinitely inferior to the Christian 
doctrine of love, which should be the law. 
I deem it a product of the conditions of an 
artificial society— of a society in which acci- 
dent of birth and unmerited favour instituted 
class distinctions, in which the family was the 
social unit, in which seniority of age was of 
more account than superioritv of talents, in 
which natural affections had often to suc- 
cumb before arbitrary man-made customs. 
Because of this very artificiality, Giri in time 
degenerated into a vague sense of propriety 
called up to explain this and sanction that, 

as, for example, why a mother must, 

if need be, sacrifice all her other children in 
order to save the first-born ; or why a daugh- 
ter must sell her chastity to get funds to 
pay for the father's dissipation, and the like. 
Starting as Right Reason, Giri has, in my 
opinion, often stooped to casuistry. It has 
even degenerated into cowardly fear of 
censure. I might say of Giri what Scott 
wrote of patriotism, that "as it is the fairest, 
so it is often the most suspicious, mask of 
other feelings." Carried beyond or below 
Right Reason, Giri became a monstrous 


misnomer. It harbored under its wings 
every sort of sophistry and hypocrisy. 
It might easily have been turned into a 
nest of cowardice, if Bushido had not a keen 
and correct sense of 


to the consideration of which we shall 
now return. Qo ^urage was scarce ly deemed 
worthy to be counted among virtues, unless 
it was exercised in the cause of Righteous- 
ness. In his " Analects " Confucius defines 
TTourage by explaining, as is often his wont, 
what its negative is. " Perceiving what is 
right," he says, ** and doing it not, argues 
lack of courage." Put this epigram into a 
positive statement, and it runs, " Courage is 
doing what is right." To run all kinds of 
hazards, to jeopardize one's self, to rush into 
the jaws of death — these are too often 
identified with Valor, and in the profession 
of arms such rashness of conduct — what 
Shakespeare calls, "valor misbegot" — is 
unjustly applauded; but not so in the 


Precepts of Knighthood. Death for a cause 
unworthy of dying for, was called a *' dog's 
death." " To rush into the thick of battle 
and to be slain in it," says a Prince of Mito,. 
" is easy enough, and the merest churl is 
equal to the task ; but," he continues, " it is 
true courage to live when it is right to live, 
and to die only when it is right to die," and 
yet the Prince had not even heard of the 
name of Plato, who defines courage as " the 
knowledge of things that a man should fear 
and that he should not fear." A distinction 
Avhich is made in the West between moral 
and physical courage has long been re- 
cognized among us. What samurai youth 
has not heard of *' Great Valor " and the 
^'Valor of a Villein?" 

Valor, Fortitude, Bravery, Fearlessness^ 
Courage, being the qualities of soul which 
appeal most easily to juvenile minds, and 
which can be trained by exercise and 
example, were, so to speak, the most 
popular virtues, early emulated among 
the youth. Stories of military exploits 
were repeated almost before boys left their 
mother's breast. Does a little booby 


cry for any ache ? The mother scolds 
him in this fashion : " What a coward 
to cry for a trifling pain ! What will 
you do when your arm is cut off in 
battle ? What when you are called upon 
to commit Jiarakirif' We all know the 
pathetic fortitude of a famished little boy- 
prince of Sendai, who in the drama is made 
to say to his little page, " Seest thou those 
tiny sparrows in the nest, how their yellow 
bills are opened wide, and now see ! there 
comes their mother with worms to feed 
them. How eagerly and happily the little 
ones eat ! but for a samurai, when his 
stomach is empt}^, it is a disgrace to feel 
hunger." Anecdotes of fortitude and bravery 
abound in nursery tales, though stories ot 
this kind are not by any means the only 
method of early imbuing the spirit with 
daring and fearlessness. Parents, with 
sternness sometimes verging on cruelty, 
set their children to tasks that called forth 
all the pluck that was in them. *' Bears 
hurl their cubs down the gorge," they said. 
Samurai's sons were let down the steep 
valleys of hardship, and spurred to Sisy- 


phus-like tasks. Occasional deprivation of 
food or exposure to cold, was considered 
a highly efficacious test for Inuring them to 
endurance. Children of tender age were sent 
among utter strangers with some message to 
deliver, were made to rise before the sun, 
and before breakfast attend to their reading 
exercises, walking to their teacher with 
bare feet in the cold of winter; they fre- 
quently — once or twice a month, as on the 
festival of a god of learning,^ — came together 
in small groups and passed the night without 
sleep, in reading aloud by turns. Pilgrim- 
ages to all sorts of uncanny places — to ex- 
ecution grounds, to graveyards, to houses 
reputed to be haunted, were favorite 
pastimes of the young. In the days when 
decapitation was public, not only were 
small boys sent to witness the ghastly scene, 
but they were made to visit alone the 
place in the darkness of night and there to 
leave a mark of their visit on the trunkless 

Does this ultra-Spartan system of" drilling 
the nerves " strike the modern pcdagogist 
with horror and doubt — doubt whether the 


tendency would not be brutalizing, nipping 
in the bud the tender emotions of the heart ? 
Let us see what other concepts Bushido had 
of Valor. 

The spiritual aspect of valor is evidenced 
by composure — calm presence of mind. 
Tranquillity is courage in repos e. It is a 
statical manifestation of valor, as daring 
deeds are a dynamical. A truly brave man 
is ever serene ; lie^ never taken by surprise ; 
nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. 
In the heat of battle he remains cool ; in the 
midst of catastrophes he keeps level his 
mind. Earthquakes do not shake him, he 
laughs at storms. We admire him as truly 
great, who, in the menacing presence of 
danger or death, retains his self-possession ; 
who, for instance, can compose a poeni 
under impending peril or hum a strain in the 
face of death. Such indulgence betraying 
no tremor in the writing or in the voice, is 
taken as an infallible index of a large nature 
— of what we call a capacious mind {yoyu), 
which, far from being pressed or crowded, 
has always room for something more. 

It passes current among us as a piece of 


authentic history, that as Ota Dokan, the 
great builder of the castle of Tokyo, was 
pierced through with a spear, his assassin, 
knowing the poetical predilection of his 
victim, accompanied his thrust with this 
couplet — 

" Ah ! how in moments hke these 
Our heart doth grudge the h'ght of life ; " 

whereupon the expiring hero, not one whit 

daunted by the mortal wound in his side, 

added the lines — 

" Had not in hom^s of peace, 
It learned to lightly look on life." 

There is even a sportive element in a 
courageous nature. Things which are serious 
to ordinary people, may be but play to the 
valiant. Hence in old warfare it was not at 
all rare for the parties to a conflict to 
exchange repartee or to begin a rhetorical 
contest. Combat was not solely a matter of 
brute force ; it was, as well, an intellectual 

Of such character was the battle fought on 
the bank of the Koromo River, late in the 
eleventh century. The eastern army routed, 
its leader, Sadato, took to flight. When the 


pursuing general pressed him hard and 
called aloud — '* It is a disgrace for a warrior 
to show his back to the enemy," Sadato 
reined his horse ; upon this the conquering 
chief shouted an impromptu verse — 

" Torn into shreds is the warp of the cloth " {koromo). 

Scarcely had the words escaped his lips 
when the defeated warrior, undismayed, 
completed the couplet — 

" Since age has worn its threads by use." 

Yoshiie, whose bow had all the while been 
bent, suddenly unstrung it and turned away, 
leaving his prospective victim to do as he 
pleased. When asked the reason of his 
strange behavior, he replied that he could 
not bear to put to shame one who had kept 
his presence of mind while hotly pursued by 
his enemy. 

The sorrow which overtook Antony and 
Octavius at the death of Brutus, has been 
the general experience of brave men. Ken- 
shin, who fought for fourteen years with 
Shingen, when he heard of the latter's death, 
wept aloud at the loss of " the best of 
enemies." It was this same Kenshin who 
had set a noble example for all time, in his 


treatment of Shingen, whose provinces lay 
in a mountainous region quite away from the 
sea, and who had consequently depended 
upon the Hojo provinces of the Tokaido for 
salt. The Hojo prince wishing to weaken 
him, although not openly at war with him, 
had cut off from Shingen all traffic in this 
important article. Kenshin, hearing of his 
enemy's dilemma and able to obtain his salt 
from the coast of his own dominions, wrote 
Shingen that in his opinion the Hojo lord 
had committed a very mean act, and that 
although he (Kenshin) was at war with him 
(Shingen) he had ordered his subjects to 
furnish him with plenty of salt — adding, *' I 
do not fight with salt, but with the sword," 
affording more than a parallel to the words 
of Camillus, ** We Romans do not fight with 
gold, but with iron." Nietzche spoke for 
the samurai heart when he wrote, " You 
are to be proud of your enemy; then the 
success of your enemy is your success also." 
Indeed valor* and honor alike required 
that we should own as enemies in war only 
such as prove worthy of being friends in 
peace. When valor attains this height, it 


becomes akin to 


love, magnanimity, affection for others, sym-^ 
pathy and pity, which were ever recognized 
to be supreme virtues, the highest of all the 
attributes of the human soul. Benevolence 
was deemed a princely virtue in a twofold 
sense ; — princely among the manifold attri- 
butes of a noble spirit; princely as particularly 
befitting a princely profession. We needed 
no Shakespeare to feel^though, perhaps, 
like the rest of the world, we needed him to 
express it — that mercy became a monarch 
better than his crown, that it was above his 
sceptered sway. How often both Confucius 
and Mencius repeat the highest requirement 
of a ruler of men to consist in benevolence. 
Confucius would say, '' Let but a prince 
cultivate virtue, people will flock to him; 
with people will come to him lands; lands 
will bring forth for him wealth ; wealth will 
give him the benefit of right uses. Virtue is 
the root, and wealth an outcome." Again^ 


*' Never has there been a case of a sovereign 
loving benevolence, and the people not lov- 
ing righteousness." Mencius follows close at 
his heels and says, ** Instances are on record 
where individuals attained to supreme power 
in a single state, without benevolence, but 
never have I heard of a whole empire falling 
into the hands of one who lacked this virtue." 
Also, — " It is impossible that any one should 
become ruler of the people to whom they 
have not yielded the subjection of their 
hearts." Both defined this indispensable 
requirement in a ruler by saying, *' Benevo- 
lence — Benevolence is Man." Under the 
regime of feudalism, which could easily be 
perverted into militarism, it was to Benevo- 
lence that we owed our deliverance from 
despotism of the worst kind. An utter 
surrender of ** life and limb " on the part of 
the governed would have left nothing for the 
governing but self-will, and this has for its 
natural consequence the growth of that 
-absolutism so often called "oriental despot- 
ism," — as though there were no despots of 
occidental history ! 

Let it be far from me to upl.old despotism 


of any sort ; but it is a mistake to identify 
feudalism with it. When Frederick the 
Great wrote that " Kings are the first 
servants of the State," jurists thought rightly 
that a new era was reached in the develop- 
ment of freedom. Strangely coinciding in 
time, in the backwoods of North-western 
Japan, Yozan of Yonezawa made exactly 
the same declaration, showing that feudalism 
was not all tyranny and oppression. A 
feudal prince, although unmindful of owing 
reciprocal obligations to his vassals, felt a 
higher sense of responsibility to his ancestors 
and to Heaven. He was a father to his 
subjects, whom Heaven entrusted to his care. 
In a sense not usually assigned to the term, 
Bushido accepted and corroborated paternal 
government — paternal also as opposed to 
the less interested avuncular government 
(Uncle Sam's, to wit !). The difference 
between a despotic and a paternal govern- 
ment lies in this, that in the one the people 
obey reluctantly, while in the other they do 
so with " that proud submission, that digni- 
fied obedience, that subordination of heart 
which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the 


spirit of exalted freedom."* The old saying 
is not entirely false which called the king 
of England the "king of devils, because ot 
his subjects' often insurrections against, and 
depositions of, their princes," and which 
made the French monarch the "king of 
asses, because of their infinite taxes and im- 
positions," but which gave the title of " the 
king of men" to the sovereign of Spain 
■^* because of his subjects' willing obedience." 
But enough ! — 

Virtue .and absolute power may strike thf 
Anglo-Saxon • mirid as terms which it is 
impossible to harmonize. Pobyedonostseft 
has clearly set before us the contrast in the 
foundat^ions of English and other European 
•communities; namely that these were organ- 
ized on the basis of common interest, while 
that was distinguished by a strongly de- 
veloped independent personality. What 
this Russian statesman says of the personal 
dependence of individuals on some social 
alliance and in the end of ends on the State, 
among the continental nations of Europe and 
particularly among Slavonic peoples, is 
* Burke, French Revolution, 


doubly true ot the Japanese. Hence not 
only is a free exercise of monarchical power 
not felt as heavily by us as in Europe, but it 
is generally moderated by parental con- 
sideration for the feelings of the people. 
*^ Absolutism," says Bismarck, ** primarily 
demands in the ruler impartiality, honesty, 
devotion to duty, energy and inward humili- 
ty." If I may be allowed to make one more 
quotation on this subject, I will cite from 
the speech of the German Emperor at 
Coblenz, in which he spoke of " Kingship, 
by the grace of God, with its heavy duties, 
its tremendous responsibility to the Creator 
alone, from which no man, no minister, no 
parhament, can release the monarch." 

We knew Benevolence was a tender 
virtue and mother-like. If upright Rectitude 
and stern Justice were peculiarly masculine, 
Mercy had the gentleness and the per- 
suasiveness of a feminine nature. We were 
warned against indulging in indiscriminate 
charity, without seasoning it with justice and 
rectitude. Masamune expressed it well in 
his oft-quoted aphorism — " Rectitude carried 
to excess hardens into stiffness ; Benevolence 


indulged beyond measure sinks into weak- 

Fortunately Mercy was not so rare as it 
was beautiful, for it is universally true that 
" The bravest are the tenderest, the loving- 
are the daring." ^^ Bushi no nasake^^ — the 
tenderness of a warrior — had a sound which 
appealed at once to whatever was noble in 
us; not that the mercy of a samurai was 
generically different from the mercy of any 
other being, but because it implied mercy 
where mercy was not a blind impulse, but 
where it recognized due regard to justice, and 
where mercy did not remain merely a certain 
state of mind, but where it was backed with 
power to save or kill. As economists speak 
of demand as being effectual or ineffectual, 
similarly we may call the mercy of bushi 
effectual, since it implied the power of 
acting for the good or detriment of the 

Priding themselves as they did in their 
brute strength and privileges to turn it into 
account, the samurai gave full consent to 
what Mencius taught concerning the power 
of Love. ** Benevolence," he says, "brings 


under its sway whatever hinders its power, 
just as water subdues fire : they only doubt 
the power of water to quench flames who try 
to extinguish with a cupful a whole burning 
wagon-load of fagots." He also says that 
^* the feeling of distress is th e root of benevo- 
lence, therefore a benevolent man is ever 
mindful of those who are su ffering and in 
distress." Thus did Menc ius long anticipate 
Adam Smit h who founds his ethical philoso- 
phy o n Sympathy . 

It is indeed striking how closely the code 
of knightly honor of one country coincides 
with that of others ; in other words, how the 
much abused oriental ideas of morals find 
their counterparts in the noblest maxims of 
European literature. If the well-known 

I lac tibi erunt aites — pacisque imponere morem, 
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos, 

were shown a Japanese gentleman, he might 
readily accuse the Mantuan bard of plagia- 
rizing from the literature of his own country. 
Benevolence to tlie weak, the down- 
trodden or the vanquished, was ever extolled 
as peculiarly becoming to a samurai. Lovers 

of Japanese art must be familiar with the 
representation of a priest riding backwards 
on a cow. The rider was once a warrior 
who in his day made his name a by-word of 
terror. In that terrible battle of Sumano-ura, 
(1184 A. D.), which was one of the most 
decisive in our history, he overtook an 
enemy and in single combat had him in the 
clutch of his gigantic arms. Now the 
etiquette of war required that on such 
occasions no blood should be spilt, unless the 
weaker party proved to be a man of rank or 
ability equal to that of the stronger. The 
grim combatant would have the name of the 
man under him ; but he refusing to make it 
known, his helmet was ruthlessly torn off, 
when the sight of a juvenile face, fair and 
beardless, made the astonished knight relax 
his hold. Helping the youth to his feet, in 
paternal tones he bade the stripling go : 
" Off, young prince, to thy mother's side ! 
The sword of Kumagaye shall never be 
tarnished by a drop of thy blood. Haste 
and flee o'er yon pass before thy enemies 
come in sight ! " The young warrior refused 
to go and begged Kumagaye, for the honor 


of both, to despatch him on the spot. Above 
the hoary head of the veteran gleams the 
cold blade, which many a time before has 
sundered the chords of life, but his stout 
heart quails ; there flashes athwart his 
mental eye the vision of his own boy, who 
this self-same day marched to the sound of 
bugle to try his maiden arms ; the strong 
hand of the warrior quivers ; again he begs 
his victim to flee for his life. Finding all his 
entreaties vain and hearing the approaching 
steps of his comrades, he exclaims: *' If 
thou art overtaken, thou mayest fall at a 
more ignoble hand than mine. O, thou 
Infinite ! receive his soul ! " In an instant 
the sword flashes in the air, and when it falls 
it is red with adolescent blood. When the 
war is ended, we find our soldier returning 
in, but little cares he now for honor 
or fame ; he renounces his warlike career, 
shaves his head, dons a priestly garb, devotes 
the rest of his days to holy pilgrimage, 
never turning his back to the West, where 
lies the Paradise whence salvation comes 
and whither the sun hastes daily for his rest. 
Critics may point out flaws in this story, 


Avhich is casuistically vulnerable. Let it be: 
all the same it shows that Tenderness, Pity 
and Love, were traits which adorned the 
most sanguinary exploits of the samurai. It 
was an old maxim among them that ** It 
becometh not the fowler to slay the bird 
which takes refuge in his bosom." This 
in a large measure explains why the Red 
Cross movement, considered peculiarly 
Christian, so readily found a firm footing 
among us. For decades before we heard 
of the Geneva Convention, Bakin, our great- 
est novelist, had familiarized us with the 
medical treatment of a fallen foe. In the 
principality of Satsuma, noted for its martial 
spirit and education, the custom prevailed 
for young men to practice music ; not the 
blast of trumpets or the beat of drums, — 
*' those clamorous harbingers of blood and 
death " — stirring us to imitate the actions ot 
a tiger, but sad and tender melodies on the 
bkva,'^ soothing our fiery spirits, drawing 
our thoughts away from scent of blood and 
scenes of carnage. Polybius tells us of the 
Constitution of Arcadia, which required all 
* A musical instrument, resembling the guitar. 


youths under thirty to practice music, in 
order that this gentle art migVit alleviate 
the rigors of that inclement region. It is to 
its influence that he attributes the absence 
of cruelty in that part of the Arcadian 

Nor was Satsuma the only place in Japan 
where gentleness was inculcated among the 
warrior class. A Prince of Shirakawa jots 
down his random thoughts, and among 
them is the following : ** Though they 
come stealing to your bedside in the silent 
watches of the night, drive not awa}^ but 
rather cherish these — the fragrance of flow- 
ers, the sound of distant bells, the insect 
humming of a frosty night." And again, 
*' Though they may wound your feelings, 
these three you have only to forgive, the 
breeze that scatters your flowers, the cloud 
that hides your moon, and the man who 
tries to pick quarrels with you." 

It was ostensibly to express, but actually 
to cultivate, these gentler emotions that the 
wTiting of verses was encouraged. Our 
poetry has therefore a strong undercurrent 
of pathos and tenderness. A well-known 


anecdote of a rustic samurai illustrates a 
case in point. When he was told to learn 
versification, and " The Warbler's Notes "^* 
was given him for the subject of his first 
attempt, his fiery spirit rebelled and he 
flung at the feet of his master this uncouth 
production, which ran 

" The brave warrior keeps apart 
The ear that might hsten 
To the warbler's song." 

His master, undaunted by the crude sen- 
timent, continued to encourage the youth, 
until one day the music of his soul was 
awakened to respond to the sweet notes 
of the tigtcis7ij and he wrote 

" Stands the warrior, mailed and strong, 
To hear the uguisu's song, 
Warbled sweet the trees among." 

We admire and enjoy the heroic incident 
in Korner's short life, when, as he lay 
wounded on the battle-field, he scribbled 
his famous '♦ Farewell to Life." Incidents 
of a similar kind were not at all unusual 
in our warfare. Our pithy, epigrammatic 

*The uguisu or warbler, sometimes called the nightingale 
of Japan. 


poems were particularly well suited to the 
improvisation of a single sentiment. Every- 
body of any education was either a poet or 
a poetaster. Not infrequently a marching 
soldier might be seen to halt, take his 
writing utensils from his belt, and compose 
an ode, — and such papers were found after- 
ward in the helmets or the breast-plates, 
when these were removed from their hfeless 

What Christianity has done in Europe 
toward rousing compassion in the midst 
of belligerent horrors, love of music and 
letters has done in Japan. The cultivation 
of tender feelings breeds considerate regard 
for the sufferings of others. Modesty and 
complaisance, actuated by respect for others' 
feelings, are at the root of 


that courtesy and urbanity of manners which 
has been noticed by every foreign tourist 
as a marked Japan ese trait. Politeness is 
a poor virtu e, if it is actuated only by a fear 
of offending good tas te, whereas it should be 


the outward manifestation of a sympathetic 
regard for the feelings of others. It also 
implies a due regard for the fitness of things, 
therefore due respect to social positions ; 
for these latter express no plutocratic dis- 
tinctions, but were originally distinctions for 
actual merit. 

In its highest form, politeness almost 
approaches love. We may reverently say, 
politeness ^' suffereth long, and is kind ; 
envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed 
up ; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh 
not her own, is not easily provoked, taketh 
not account of evil." Is it any wonder 
that Professor Dean, in speaking of the six 
elements of Humanity, accords to Politeness 
an exalted position, inasmuch as it is the 
ripest fruit of social intercourse ? 

While thus extolling Politeness, far be it 
from me to put it in the front rank of virtues. 
If we analyze it, we shall find it correlated 
with other virtues of a higher order; for 
what virtue stands alone ? While — or rather 
because — it was exalted as peculiar to the 
profession of arms, and as such esteemed in 
a degree higher than its deserts, there came 


into existence its counterfeits. Confucius 
himself has repeatedly taught that external 
appurtenances are as little a part of proprie- 
ty as sounds are of music 

When propriety was elevated to the sine 
qua lion of social intercourse, it was only to 
be expected that an elaborate system of 
etiquette should come into vogue to train 
youth in correct social behavior. How one 
must bow in accosting others, how he must 
walk and sit, were taught and learned with 
utmost care. Table manners grew to be a 
science. Tea serving and drinking were 
raised to a ceremony. A man of education 
is, of course, expected to be master of all 
these. Very fitly does Mr. Veblen, in his 
interesting book,* call decorum *' a product 
and an exponent of the leisure-class life." 

I have heard slighting remarks made by 
Europeans upon our elaborate discipline 
of politeness. It has been criticized as 
absorbing too much of our thought and in 
so far a folly to observe strict obedience 
to it. I admit that there may be unneces- 
sary niceties in ceremonious etiquette, but 

* Theory of the Leisure Class, N. Y. 1 899, p. 46. 

whether it partakes as much of folly as the 
adherence to ever-changing fashions of the 
West, is a question not very clear to my 
mind. Even fashions I do not consider 
solely as freaks of vanity ; on the contrary, 
I look upon these as a ceaseless search 
of the human mind for the beautiful. Much 
less do I consider elaborate ceremony as 
altogether trivial ; for it denotes the result 
of long observation as to the most appro- 
priate method of achieving a certain result. 
If there is anything to do, there is certainly 
a best way to do it, and the best way is 
both the most economical and the most 
graceful. Mr. Spencer defines grace as the 
most economical manner of motion. The 
tea ceremony presents certain definite ways 
of manipulating a bowl, a spoon, a napkin, 
etc. To a novice it looks tedious. But one 
soon discovers that the way prescribed is, 
after all, the most saving of time and labor; 
in other words, the most economical use oi 
force, — hence, according to Spencer's dictum^ 
the most graceful. 

The spiritual significance of social de- 
corum, — or, I might say, to borrow from the 


vocabulary of the '* Philosophy of Clothes,'* 
the spiritual discipline of which etiquette 
and ceremony are mere outward garments, 
— is out of all proportion to what their 
appearance warrants us in believing-. I 
might follow the example of Mr. Spencer 
and trace in our ceremonial institutions their 
origins and the moral motives that gave 
rise to them ; but that is not what I shall 
endeavor to do in this book. It is the 
moral training involved in strict observance 
of propriety, that I wish to emphasize. 

I have said that etiquette was elaborated 
into the finest niceties, so much so that dif- 
ferent schools advocating different systems, 
came into existence. But they all united 
in the ultimate essential, and this was put 
by a great exponent of the best known 
school of etiquette, the Ogasawara, in the 
following terms : '* The end of all etiquette 
is to so cultivate your mind that even when 
you are quietly seated, not the roughest 
ruffian can dare make onset on your person.'* 
It means, in other words, that by constant 
exercise in correct manners, one brings a ll 
the parts and faculties of his body into 


perfect order and into such harmony with 
itself and its environm ent as to express the 
mastery of spirit over the flesh . What a 
new and deep significance the French word 
bienseance^ comes thus to contain ! 

If the premise is true that gracefuhiess 
means economy of force, then it follows as 
a logical sequence that a constant practice 
of graceful deportment must bring with it a 
reserve and storage of force. Fine manners, 
therefore, mean power in repose. When the 
barbarian Gauls, during the sack of Rome, 
burst into the assembled Senate and dared 
pull the beards of the venerable Fathers, we 
think the old gentlemen were to blame, 
inasmuch as they lacked dignity and 
strength of manners. Is lofty spiritual at- 
tainment really possible through etiquette } 
Why not i* — All roads lead to Rome ! 

As an example of how the simplest thing 
can be made into an art and then become 
spiritual culture, I may take Cha-no-yu, the 
tea ceremony. Tea-sipping as a fine art ! 
Why should it not be } In the children 
drawing pictures on the sand, or in the 
* Etymologically well-seatedness. 


savage carving on a rock, was the promise 
of a Raphael or a Michael Angelo. How 
much more is the drinking of a beverage, 
which began with the transcendental con- 
templation of a Hindoo anchorite, entitled 
to develop into a handmaid of Religion and 
Morality ? That calmness of mind, that 
serenity of temper, that composure and 
quietness of demeanor, which are the first 
essentials of CJia-no-yiiy are without doubt 
the first conditions of right thinking and 
right feeling. The scrupulous cleanliness 
of the little room, shut off from sight and 
sound of the madding crowd, is in itself 
conducive to direct one's thoughts from the 
world. The bare interior does not engross 
one's attention like the innumerable pictures 
and bric-a-brac of a Western parlor; the 
presence of kakemono'^ calls our attention 
more to grace of design than to beauty of 
color. The utmost refinement of taste Is 
the object aimed at ; whereas anything like 
display is banished with religious horror. 
The very fact that It was Invented by a 

* Hanging scrolls, which may be, either paintings or ideo. 
grams, used for decorative purposes. 

contemplative recluse, in a time when wars 
and the rumors of wars were incessant, is 
well calculated to show that this institution 
was more than a pastime. Before entering 
the quiet precincts of the tea-room, the 
company assembling to partake of the 
ceremony laid aside, together with their 
swords, the ferocity of the battle-ifield or the 
cares of government, there to find peace 
and friendship. 

Cha-iio-yu is more than a ceremony — it is 
a fine art ; it is poetry, with articulate 
gestures for rhythm : it is a modus opei^ajidi 
of soul discipline. Its greatest value lies 
in this last phase. Not infrequently the 
other phases preponderated in the mind of 
its votaries, but that does not prove that its 
essence was not of a spiritual nature. 

Politeness will be a great acquisition, if it 
does no more than impart grace to manners; 
but its function does not stop here. For 
propriety, springing as it docs from motiv es 
of benevolence and modesty, and actuated 
by tender feelings toward the sensibilities 
of others, is ever a graceful expression of 
sympathy. Its requirement is that we 


should weep with those that weep and 
rejoice with those that rejoice. Such 
didactic requirement, when reduced into 
small every-day details of life, expresses 
itself in little acts scarcely noticeable, or, 
if noticed, is, as one missionary lady of 
twenty years' residence once said to mc, 
*' awfully funny." You are out in tlie hot 
glaring sun with no shade over you ; a 
Japanese acquaintance passes by ; you 
accost him, and instantly his hat is off — 
well, that is perfectly natural, but the 
** awfully funny " performance is, that all 
:he while he talks with you his parasol is 
down and he stands in the glaring sun also. 
How foolish ! — Yes, exactly so, provided 
the motive were less than this: "You are 
in the sun ; I sympathize with you ; I would 
willingly take you under my parasol if it 
were large enough, or if we were familiarly 
acquainted ; as I cannot shade you, I will 
share your discomforts." Little acts of 
this kind, equally or more amusing, are not 
mere gestures or conventionalities. They 
are the " bodying forth " of thoughtful 
feelings for the comfort of others. 


Another " awfully funny " custom is dic- 
tated by our canons of Politeness ; but many 
superficial writers on Japan have dismissed 
it by simply attributing it to the general 
topsy-turvyness of the nation. ^ Every 
foreigner who has observed it will confess 
the awkwardness he felt in making proper 
reply upon the occasion. In America, when 
you make a gift, you sing its praises to the 
recipient; in Japan we depreciate or slandcr 
it. The underlying idea with you is, " This 
is a nice gift : if it were not nice I would not 
dare give it to you ; for it will be an insult 
to give you anything but what is nice." In 
contrast to this, our logic runs: ** You are 
a nice person, and no gift is nice enough for 
you. You will not accept anything I can 
lay at your feet except as a token of my 
good will ; so accept this, not for its intrinsic 
value, but as a token. It will be an insult 
to your worth to call the best gift good 
enough for you." Place the two ideas side 
by side, and we see that the ultimate idea is 
one and the same. Neither is " awfully 
funny." The American speaks of the 
material which makes the gift; the Japa- 


nese speaks of the spirit which prompts the 

It is perverse reasoning to conclude, 
because our sense of propriety shows itself 
in all the smallest ramifications of our 
deportment, to take the least important of 
them and uphold it as the type, and pass 
judgment upon the principle itself. Which 
is more important, to eat or to observe rules 
of propriety about eating? A Chinese sage 
answers, " If you take a case where the 
eating is all-important, and the observing 
the rules of propriety is of little importance, 
and compare them together, why merely 
say that the eating is of the more import- 
ance ? " " Metal is heavier than feathers," 
but does that saying have reference to a 
single clasp of metal and a wagon-load of 
feathers? Take a piece of wood a foot 
thick and raise it above the pinnacle of a 
temple, none would call it taller than the 
temple. To the question, "Which is the 
more important, to tell the truth or to be 
polite ? " the Japanese are said to give an 
answer diametrically opposite to what the 
American will say, — but I forbear any 


comment until I come to speak ot 


without which Pohteness is a farce and a 
show. ** Propriety carried beyond right 
bounds," says Masamune, " becomes a He." 
An ancient poet has outdone Polonius in 
the advice he gives : *' To thyself be faithful: 
if in thy heart thou strayest not from truth, 
without prayer of thine the Gods will keep 
thee whole." The apotheosis of Sincerity 
to which Confucius gives expression in the 
Doctrine of the M ean, attributes to it trans- 
cendental powers, almost identifying them 
with the Divine. " Sincerity is the end and 
the beginning of all things ; without Sinceri- 
ty there would be nothing." He then 
dwells with eloquence on its far-reaching 
and long enduring nature, its power to 
produce changes without movement and by 
its mere presence to accomplish its purpose 
without effort. From the Chinese ideogram 
for Sincerity, which is a combination of 
** Word " and " Perfect," one is tempted to 
draw a parallel between it and the Neo- 


Platonic doctrine of Logos — to such height 
does the sage soar in his unwonted mystic 

Lying or equivocation were deemed 
equally cowardly. The bushi held that 
h is high social position demanded a loftier 
standard of verac ity jthan that of the trades^ 
man and peasan t. Bushi no ichi-gon— the 
word of a samurai or in exact German 
equivalent eiit Ritterivort — was sufficient 
guaranty of the truthfulness of an assertion. 
His word carried such weight with it that 
promises were generally made and fulfilled 
without a written pledge, which would have 
been deemed quite beneath his dignity. 
Many thrilling anecdotes were told of those 
who atoned by death for ni-gon, a double 

The regard for veracity was so high that, 
unlike the generality of Christians who 
persistently violate the plain commands of 
the Teacher not to swear, the best of 
samurai looked upon an oath as derogatory 
to their honor. I am well aware that they 
did swear by different deities or upon their 
swords ; but never has swearing degenerated 


into wanton form and irreverent interjec- 
tion. To emphasize our words a practice 
of literally sealing with blood was some- 
times resorted to. For the explanation 
of such a practice, I need only refer my 
readers to Goethe's Faust. 

A recent American writer is responsible 
for this statement, that if you ask an 
ordinary Japanese which is better, to tell 
a falsehood or be impolite, he will not 
hesitate to answer " to tell a falsehood ! " 
Dr. Peery* is partly right and partly 
wrong ; right in that an ordinary Japanese, 
even a samurai, may answer in the way 
ascribed to him, but wrong in attributing 
too much weight to the term he translates 
** falsehood." This word (in Japanese tiso) 
is employed to denote anything which is not 
a truth {makotd) or fact (Jiontd). Lowell 
tells us that Wordsworth could not dis- 
tinguish between truth and fact, and an 
ordinary Japanese is in this respect as good 
as Wordsworth. Ask a Japanese, or even 
an American of any refinement, to tell you 
whether he dislikes you or whether he is sick 

* Peery, The Gist of yapan^ p. 86. 

at his stomach, and he will not hesitate long- 
to tell falsehoods and answer, " I like you 
much," or, '' I am quite well, thank you." 
To sacrifice truth merely for the sake of 
politeness was regarded as an " empty 
form" {kyo-rei) and ''deception by sweet 
words," and was never justified. 

I own I am speaking now of the Bushido 
idea of veracity ; but it may not be amiss to 
devote a few words to our commercial 
integrity, of which I have heard much 
complaint in foreign books and journals. 
A loose business morality has indeed been 
the worst blot on our national reputation ; 
but before abusing it or hastily condemning 
the whole race for it, let us calmly study it 
and we shall be rewarded with consolation 
for the future. 

Of all the great occupations of life, none 
was farther removed from the profession of 
arms than commerce. The merchant was 
placed lowest in the category of vocations, 
— the knight, the tiller of the soil, the 
mechanic, the merchant. The samurai 
derived his income from land and could 
even indulge, if he had a mind to, in 


amateur farming; but the counter and 
abacus were abhorred. We knew the wis- 
dom of this social arrangement. Montes- 
quieu has made it clear that the debarring 
of the nobility from mercantile pursuits was 
an admirable social policy, in that it prevent- 
ed wealth from accumulating in the hands of 
the powerful. The separation of power and 
riches kept the distribution of the latter 
more nearly equable. Professor Dill, the 
author of " Roman Society in the Last 
Century of the Western Empire," has 
brought afresh to our mind that one cause 
of the decadence of the Roman Empire, 
was the permission given to the nobility 
to engage in trade, and the consequent 
monopoly of wealth and power by a minori- 
ty of the senatorial families. 

Commerce, therefore, in feudal Japan did 
not reach that degree of development 
which it would have attained under freer 
conditions. The obloquy attached to the 
calling naturally brought within its pale 
such as cared little for social repute. " Call 
one a thief and he will steal :" put a stigma 
on a calling and its followers adjust their 


morals to it, for it is natural that " the 
normal conscience," as Hugh Black says, 
** rises to the demands made on it, and easily 
falls to the limit of the standard expected 
from it." It is unnecessary to add that no 
business, commercial or otherwise, can be 
transacted without a code of morals. Our 
merchants of the feudal period had one 
among themselves, without which they 
could never have developed, as they did, 
such fundamental mercantile institutions as 
the guild, the bank, the bourse, insurance, 
checks, bills of exchange, etc.; but in theii 
relations with people outside their vocation, 
the tradesmen lived too true to the repu- 
tation of their order. 

This being the case, when the country 
was opened to foreign trade, only the most 
adventurous and unscrupulous rushed to tht 
ports, while the respectable business houses 
declined for some time the repeated requests 
of the authorities to establish branch houses 
Was Bushido powerless to stay the current 
of commercial dishonor.? Let us sec. 

Those who arc well acquainted with oui 
history will remember that only a few years 


after our treaty ports were opened to foreign 
trade, feudalism was abolished, and when 
with it the samurai's fiefs were taken and 
bonds issued to them in compensation, 
they were given liberty to invest them in 
mercantile transactions. Now you may ask, 
** Why could they not bring their much 
boasted veracity into their new business 
relations and so reform the old abuses ? " 
Those who had eyes to see could not weep 
enough, those who had hearts to feel could 
not sympathize enough, with the fate of 
many a noble and honest samurai who 
signally and irrevocably failed in his new 
and unfamiliar field of trade and industry, 
through sheer lack of shrewdness in coping 
with his artful plebeian rival. When we 
know that eighty per cent, of the business 
houses fail in so industrial a country as 
America, is it any wonder that scarcely one 
among a hundred samurai who went into 
trade could succeed in his new vocation? 
It will be long before it will be recognized 
how many fortunes were wrecked in the 
attempt to apply Bushido ethics to business 
methods ; but it was soon patent to every 


observing mind that the ways of wealth 
were not the ways of honor. In what 
respects, then, were they different ? 

Of the three incentives to Veracity that 
Lecky enumerates, viz : the industrial, the 
political, and the philosophical, the first was 
altogether lacking in Bushido. As to the 
second, it could develop little in a political 
community under a feudal system. It is in 
its philosophical, and as Lecky says, in its 
highest aspect, that Honesty attained ele- 
vated rank in our catalogue of virtues. With 
all my sincere regard for the high commer- 
cial integrity of the Anglo-Saxon race, when 
I ask for the ultimate ground, I am told that 
*' Honesty is the best policy," that it pays 
to be honest. Is not this virtue, then, its 
own reward ? If it is followed because it 
brings in more cash than falsehood, I am 
afraid Bushido would rather indulge in lies ! 

If Bushido rejects a doctrine of quid pro 
quo rewards, the shrewder tradesman will 
readily accept it. Lecky has very truly 
remarked that Veracity owes its growth 
largely to commerce and manufacture ; as 
Nietzsche puts it, " Honesty is the youngest 


of virtues " — in other words, it is the foster- 
child of industry , of modern industry. With- 
out this mother, Veracity was Hke a blue- 
blood orphan whom only the most cultivated 
mind could adopt and nourish. Such minds 
were general among the samurai, but, for 
want of a more democratic and utiHtarian 
foster-mother, the tender child failed to 
thrive. Industries advancing, Veracity will 
prove an easy, nay, a profitable, virtue to 
practice. Just think, as late as November 
1880, Bismarck sent a circular to the profes- 
sional consuls of the German Empire, warn- 
ing them of " a lamentable lack of reliability 
with regard to German shipments inter aliay 
apparent both as to quality and quantity ;" 
now-a-days we hear comparatively little of 
German carelessness and dishonesty in trade. 
In twenty years her merchants learned 
that in the end honesty pays. Already our 
merchants arc finding that out. For the 
rest I recommend the reader to two recent 
writers for well-weighed judgment on this 
point. '^ It is interesting to remark in this 

* Knapp, Feudal and Modern yapan^ Vol. I, Ch. IV. 
Ransome, Japan in Transition^ Ch. VIII. 


connection that integrity and honor were 
the surest guaranties which even a merchant 
debtor could present in the form of promis- 
sory notes. It was quite a usual thing to 
insert such clauses as these : ** In default 
of the repayment of the sum lent to me, I 
shall say nothing against being ridiculed in 
public ;" or, *' In case I fail to pay you back, 
you may call me a fool," and the like. 

Often have I wondered whether the Vera- 
city of Bushido had any motive higher than 
courage. In the absence of any positive 
commandment against bearing false witness, 
lying was not condemned as sin, but simply 
denounced as weakness, and, as such, highly 
dishonorable. As a matter of fact, the idea 
of honesty is so intimately blended, and its 
Latin and its German etymology so iden- 
tified with 


that it is high time I should pause a few 
moments for the consideration of this feature 
of the Precepts of Knighthood. 

The sense of honor, implying a vivid 


consciousness of personal dignity and worth, 
could not fail to characterize the samurai, 
born and bred to value the duties and 
privileges of their profession. Though the 
word ordinarily given now-a-days as the 
translation of Honor was not used freely, 
yet the idea was conveyed by such terms 
as na (name) men-inoku (countenance), guai- 
bun (outside hearing), reminding us respect- 
ively of the biblical use of "name," of the 
evolution of the term " personaHty " from 
the Greek mask, and of *' fame." A good 
name — one's reputation, the immortal part 
of one*s self, what remains being bestial — 
assumed as a matter of course, any infringe- 
ment upon its integrity was felt as shame, 
and the sense of shame {Ren-chi-shin) was 
one of the earliest to be cherished in juvenil e 
education. "You will be laughed at," "It 
will disgrace you," " Are you not ashamed ?** 
were the last appeal to correct behavior on 
the part of a youthful delinquent. Such a 
recourse to his honor touched the most 
sensitive spot in the child's heart, as though 
it had been nursed on honor while it was 
■in its mother's womb ; for most truly is 


honor a prenatal influence, being closely^ 
bound up with strong family consciousness. 
"In losing the solidarity of families," says 
Balzac, "society has lost the fundamental 
force which Montesquieu named Honor." 
Indeed, the sense of shame seems to me to- 
be the earliest indication of the moral 
consciousness of our race. The first and 
worst punishment which befell humanity in 
consequence of tasting **the fruit of that 
forbidden tree " was, to my mind, not the 
sorrow of childbirth, nor the thorns and 
thistles, but the awakening of the sense of 
shame. Few incidents in history excel in 
pathos the scene of the first mother plying 
with heaving breast and tremulous fingers,, 
her crude needle on the few fig leaves which 
her dejected husband plucked for her. This 
first fruit of disobedience clings to us with 
a tenacity that nothing else does. All the 
sartorial ingenuity of mankind has not yet 
succeeded in sewing an apron that will 
efficaciously hide our sense of shame. That 
samurai was right who refused to compromise 
his character by a slight humiHation in his 
youth ; ** because," he said, ** dishonor is 


like a scar on a tree, which time, instead 
of effacing, only helps to enlarge." 

Mencius had taught centuries before, in 
almost the identical phrase, what Carlyl e has 
latterly expressed, — namely, that "Shame is 
the s oil of all Virtue, of good manners and 
good morals.'* 

The fear of disgrace was so great that 
if our literature lacks such eloquence as 
Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Norfolk, 
it nevertheless hung like Damocles' sword 
over the head of every samurai and often 
assumed a morbid character. In the name 
of Honor, deeds were perpetrated which can_ 
find no justification in the co de of Bushido^ 
At the slightest, nay, imaginary insult, 
the quick-tempered braggart took offense, 
resorted to the use of the sword, and many 
an unnecessary strife was raised and many 
an innocent life lost. The story of a well- 
meaning citizen who called the attention 
of a bushi to a flea jumping on his back, and 
who was forthwith cut in two, for the simple 
and questionable reason that inasmuch as 
fleas are parasites which feed on animals, it 
was an unpardonable insult to identify a 


noble warrior with a beast — I say, stories 
like these are too frivolous to believe. Yet, 
the circulation of such stories implies three 
things; (i) that they were invented to 
■overawe common people ; (2) that abuses 
were really made of the samurai's profession 
of honor; and (3) that a very strong sense 
of shame was developed among them. It 
is plainly unfair to take an abnormal case to 
cast blame upon the Precepts, any more 
than to judge of the true teaching of Christ 
from the fruits of religious fanaticism and 
extravagance — inquisitions and hypocrisy. 
But, as in religious monomania there is 
something touchingly noble, as compared 
with the delirium tremens of a drunkard, 
so in that extreme sensitiveness of the 
samurai about their honor do we not re- 
cognize the substratum of a genuine virtue ? 

The morbid excess into which the 
delicate code of honor was inclined to run 
was strongly counterbalanced by preaching 
magnanimity and patience. To take offense 
at slight provocation was ridiculed as " short- 
tempered." The popular adage said : " Tc 
bear what you think you cannot bear is 


really to bear." The great lyeyasu left to 
posterity a few maxims, among which are 
the following : — " The life of man is like 
going a long distance with a heavy load 
upon the shoulders. Haste not. * * * >k 
Reproach none, but be forever watchful of 
thine own short-comings. * * * Forbear- 
ance is the basis of length of days." He 
proved in his life what he preached. A 
literary wit put a characteristic epigram 
into the mouths of three well-known per- 
sonages in our history : to Nobunaga he 
attributed, "I will kill her, if the nightingale 
sings not in time ; " to Hideyoshi, " I will 
force her to sing for me;" and to lyeyasu, 
" I will wait till she opens her lips." 

Patience and long suffering were also 
highly commended by Mencius. In one 
place he writes to this effect : *' Though you 
denude yourself and insult me, what is that 
to me ? You cannot defile my soul by your 
outrage." Elsewhere he teaches that anger 
at a petty offense is unworthy a superior 
man, but indignation for a g^'eat cause is 
righteous wrath. 

To what height of unmartial and unresist- 


ing meekness Bushido could reach in some ol 
its votaries, may be seen in their utterances. 
Take, for instance, this saying of Ogawa : 
** When others speak all manner of evil 
things against thee, return not evil for evil, 
but rather reflect that thou wast not more 
faithful in the discharge of thy duties." 
Take another of Kumazawa : — " When 
others blame thee, blame them not ; when 
others are angry at thee, return not anger. 
Joy cometh only as Tassion and Desire 
part." Still another instance I may cite 
from Saigo, upon whose overhanging brows 
''shame is ashamed to sit;" — "The Way 
is the way of Heaven and Earth : Man's 
place is to follow it : therefore make it the 
object of thy life to reverence Heaven. 
Heaven loves me and others with equal 
love ; therefore with the love wherev/ith 
thou lovest thyself, love others. Make not 
Man thy partner but Heaven, and making 
Heaven thy partner do thy best. Never 
condemn others ; but see to it that thou 
comest not short of thine own mark." 
Some of those sayings remind us of Christian 
expostulations and show us how far in 


practical morality natural religion can ap- 
proach the revealed. Not only did these 
sayings remain as utterances, but they were 
really embodied in acts. 

It must be admitted that very few attained 
this sublime height of magnanimity, patience 
and forgiveness. It was a great pity that 
nothing clear and general was ex^ressed^ 
as to what constitutes Honor , only a few 
enlightened minds being aware that it '' from 
no condition rises," but that it lies in each 
acting well his part : for nothing was easier 
than for youths to forget in the heat of 
action what they had learned in Mencius 
in their calmer moments. Said this sage, 
*' 'Tis in every man's mind to love honor : 
but little doth he dream that what is truly 
honorable lies within himself and not any- 
where else. The honor which men confer 
is not good honor. Those whom Chao the 
Great ennobles, he can make mean again." 

For the most part, an insult was quickly 
resented and repaid by death, as we shall 
see later, while Honor — too often nothing 
higher than vain glory or worldly approbation 
— was prized as the siimimim bonuin of earthly 


existence. Fame, and not wealth or know- 
ledge, was the goal toward which youths had 
to strive. Many a lad swore within himselt 
as he crossed the threshold of his paternal 
home, that he would not recross it until he had 
made a name in the world : and many an 
ambitious mother refused to see her sons 
again unless they could *' return home," as 
the expression is, *' caparisoned in brocade." 
To shun shame or win a name, samurai boys 
would submit to any privations and undergo 
severest ordeals of bodily or mental suffer- 
ing. They knew that honor won in youth 
grows with age. In the memorable siege 
of Osaka, a young son of lyeyasu, in spite 
of his earnest entreaties to be put in the 
vanguard, was placed at the rear of the 
army. When the castle fell, he was so 
chagrined and wept so bitterly that an old 
•councillor tried to console him with all the 
resources at his command. ** Take comfort. 
Sire," said he, ** at thought of the long 
future before you. In the many years that 
you may live, there will come divers oc- 
casions to distinguish yourself.'' The boy 
fixed his indignant gaze upon the man and 


said — *' How foolishly you talk ! Can ever 
my fourteenth year come round again ? " 

Life itself was thought cheap if honor 
and fame could be attained therewith : 
hence, whenever a cause presented itself 
which was considered dearer than life, with 
utmost serenity and celerity was life laid 

Of the causes in comparison with which 
no life was too dear to sacrifice, was 


which was the key-stone making feudal 
virtues a sym.metrical arch. Other virtues 
feudal morality shares in common with other 
systems of ethics, with other classes of 
people, but this virtue— homage and fealty 
to a superior — is its distinctive feature. I 
am aware that personal fidelity is a moral 
adhesion existing among all sorts and 
conditions of men, — a gang of pickpockets 
owe allegiance to a Fagin ; but it i s only in 
the code of chivalrous honor that Loya lty 
assumes paramount importa nce. 

In spite of Hegel's criticism that the 


fidelity of feudal vassals, being an obli- 
gation to an individual and not to a Com- 
monwealth, is a bond established on totally 
unjust principles,* a great compatriot of his 
made it his boast that personal loyalty was 
a German virtue. Bismarck had good rea- 
son to do so, not because the Treue he 
boasts of was the monopoly of his Fatherland 
or of any single nation or race, but because 
this favored fruit of chivalry lingers latest 
among the people where feudalism has 
lasted longest, r In America where " every- 
body is as good as anybody else," and, as 
the Irishman added, ''better too," such 
exalted ideas of loyalty as we feel for 
our sovereign may be deemed " excellent 
within certain bounds," but preposterous as 
encouraged among us. Montesquieu com- 
plained long ago that right on one side of 
the Pyrenees was wrong on the other, and 
the recent Dreyfus trial proved the truth 
of his remark, save that the Pyrenees were 
not the sole boundary beyond which French 
justice finds no accord. Similarly, Loyalty 

* Philosophy of History (Eng. ti-ans. by Sibree), Pt. IV, 
Sec. II, Ch. I. 


as we conceive it may find few admirers 
elsewhere, not because our conception is 
wrong, but because it is, I am afraid, for- 
gotten, and also because we carry it to a 
degree not reached in any other country. 
Griffis* was quite right in stating that 
whereas in China Confucian ethics made 
obedience to parents the primary human 
duty, in Japan precedence was given to 
Loyalty. At the risk of shocking some of 
my good readers, I will relate of one " who 
could endure to follow a fall'n lord " and 
who thus, as Shakespeare assures, " earned a 
place i'the story." 

The story is of one of the purest characters 
in our history, Michizane, who, falling a 
victim to jealousy and calumny, is exiled 
from the capital. Not content with this, 
his unrelenting enemies are now bent upon 
the extinction of his family. Strict search 
for his son — not yet grown — reveals the fact 
of his being secreted in a village school 
kept by one Genzo, a former vassal of 
Michizane. When orders are dispatched 
to the schoolmaster to deliver the head 

* Religions of Japan. 

of the juvenile offender on a certain day, 
his first idea is to find a suitable substitute 
for it. He ponders over his school-list, 
scrutinizes with careful eyes all the boys, 
as they stroll into the class-room, but none 
among the children born of the soil bears 
the least resemblance to his protege. His 
despair, however, is but for a moment ; for, 
behold, * a new scholar is announced — a 
comely boy of the same age as his master's 
son, escorted by a mother of noble mien. 
No less conscious of the resemblance be- 
tween infant lord and infant retainer, were 
the mother and the boy himself. In the 
privacy of home both had laid themselves 
upon the altar; the one his hfe, — the other 
her heart, yet without sign to the outer 
world. Unwitting of what had passed be- 
tween them, it is the teacher from whom 
comes the suggestion. 

Here, then, is the scape-goat ! — The rest 
of the narrative may be briefly told. — On the 
day appointed, arrives the officer com- 
missioned to identify and receive the head of 
the youth. Will he be deceived by the false 
head } The poor Genzo's hand is on the 


hilt of the sword, ready to strike a blow 
either at the man or at himself, should the 
examination defeat his scheme. The officer 
takes up the gruesome object before him, 
goes calmly over each feature, and in a 
deliberate, business-like tone, pronounces it 
genuine. — That evening in a lonely home 
awafts the mother we saw in the school. 
Does she know the fate of her child ? It is 
not for his return that she watches with 
eagerness for the opening of the wicket. 
Her father-in-law has been for a long time 
a recipient of Michizane's bounties, but since 
his banishment circumstances have forced her 
husband to follow the service of the enemy 
of his family's benefactor. He himself could 
not be untrue to his own cruel master ; but 
his son could serve the cause of the grand- 
sire's lord. As one acquainted with the 
exile's family, it was he who had been 
entrusted with the task of identifying the 
boy's head. Now the day's — yea, the life's 
— hard work is done, he returns home and as 
he crosses its threshold, he ziccosts his wife, 
saying : " Rejoice, my wife, our darling son 
has proved of service to his lord ! " 


** What an atrocious story!" I hear my 
readers exclaim, — '* Parents deliberately 
sacrificing their own innocent child to save 
the life of another man's." But this child 
was a conscious and willing victim : it is a 
story of vicarious death — as significant as, 
and not more revolting than, the story of 
Abraham's intended sacrifice of Isaac. In 
both cases it was obedience to the call of 
duty, utter submission to the command of a 
higher, voice, whether given by a visible or 
<\n invisible angel, or heard by an outward 
or an inward ear; — but I abstain from 

The individualism of the West, which 
recognizes separate interests for father and 
son, husband and wife, necessarily brings into 
strong relief the duties owed by one to the 
other ; but Bushi do held that the interest of 
the family an d of the members thereof is 
intact. — one and inseparable. This interest it 
bound up with affection — natural, instinctive, 
irresistible ; hence, if we die for one we love 
with natural love (which animals themselves 
possess), what is that ? " For if ye love them 
that love you, what reward have ye } Do 


not even the publicans the same ?" 

In his great history, Sanyo relates in 
touching language the heart struggle ot 
Shigemori concerning his father's rebellious 
conduct. " If I be loyal, my father must be 
undone ; if I obey my father, my duty to my 
sovereign must go amiss." Poor Shigemori 1 
We see him afterward praying with all his 
soul that kind Heaven may visit him with 
death, that he may be released from this 
world where it is hard for purity and right- 
eousness to dwell. 

Many a Shigemori has his heart torn by 
the conflict between duty and affection. 
Indeed neither Shakespeare nor the Old 
Testament itself contains an adequate render- 
ing of koy our conception of filial piety, and 
yet in such conflicts Bushido never wavered 
in its choice of Loyalty. Women, too, 
encouraged their offspring to sacrifice all for 
the king. Ever as resolute as Widow 
Windham and her illustrious consort, the 
samurai matron stood ready to give up her 
boys for the cause of Loyalty. 

Since Bushido, like Aristotle and some 
modern sociologists, conceived the state as 


antedating the individual — the latter being 
born into the former as part and parcel 
thereof — he must live and die for it or for 
the incumbent of its legitimate authority. 
Readers of Crito will remember the argument 
with which Socrates represents the laws of 
the city as pleading with him on the subject 
of his escape. Among others he makes 
them (the laws, or the state) say : — " Since 
you were begotten and nurtured and edu- 
cated under us, dare you once to say you 
are not our offspring and servant, you and 
your fathers before you ! " These are words 
which do not impress us as any thing 
extraordinary ; for the same thing has long 
been on the lips of Bushido, with this 
modification, that the laws and the state 
were represented with us by a personal 
being. Loyalty is an ethical outcome of 
this political theory. 

I am not entirely ignorant of Mr. Spencer's 
view according to which political obedience 
—Loyalty — is accredited with only a tran- 
sitional function.* It may be so. Sufficient 
unto the day is the virtue thereof. We may 

* Principles of Ethics, Vol. I, Pt. II, Ch. X. 

complacently repeat it, especially as we 
believe that day to be a long space of time, 
during which, so our national anthem says, 
" tiny pebbles grow into mighty rocks draped 
with moss."( We may remember at this 
juncture that even among so democratic a 
people as the English, " the sentiment of 
personal fidelity to a man and his posterity 
which their Germanic ancestors felt for their 
chiefs, has," as Monsieur Boutmy recently 
said, " only passed more or less into their 
profound loyalty to the race and blood of 
their princes, as evidenced in their extraordi- 
nary attachment to the dynasty." 

Political subordination, Mr. Spencer pre- 
dicts, will give place to loyalty to the 
dictates of conscience. Suppose his induction 
is realized — will loyalty and its concomitant 
instinct of reverence disappear forever } We 
transfer our allegiance from one master to 
another, without being unfaithful to either; 
from being subjects of a ruler that wields the 
temporal sceptre we become servants of the 
monarch who sits enthroned in the penetralia 
of our heart. A few years ago a very stupid 
controversy, started by the misguided dis- 


ciples of Spencer, made havoc among the 
reading class of Japan. In their zeal to 
uphold the claim of the throne to undivided 
loyalty, they charged Christians with treason- 
able propensities in that they avow fidelity to 
their Lord and Master. They arrayed forth 
sophistical arguments without the wit of 
Sophists, and scholastic tortuosities minus 
the niceties of the Schoolmen. Little did 
they know that we can, in a sense, " serve 
two masters without holding to the one or 
despising the other," " rendering unto Caesar 
the things that are Caesar's and unto God 
the things that are God's." Did not Socrates, 
all the while he unflinchingly refused to 
concede one iota of loyalty to his dcemoitj 
obey with equal fidelity and equanimity the 
command of his earthly master, the State .-* 
His conscience he followed, alive; his country 
he served, dying. Alack the day when a 
state grows so powerful as to dem^and of its 
citizens the dictates of their conscience ! 

Bushido did not require us to mak e our 
consc ienc e t he slave of any lord or king. 
Thomas Mowbray was a veritable spokesman 
for us when he said : — 


"Myself I tlifow, dread sovei-eign, at thy foot. 
My life thou shalt command, but not my shame. 
The one my duty owes ; but my fair name. 
Despite of death, that lives upon my grave. 
To dark dishonor's use, thou shalt not have." 

A man who sacrificed his own conscience to 
the capricious will or freak or fancy of a 
sovereign was accorded a low place in the 
estimate of the Precepts. Such an one was 
despised as nei-shin^ a cringeling, who makes 
court by unscrupulous fawning or as cJio-shiny 
a favorite who steals his master's affections 
by means of servile compliance; these two 
species of subjects corresponding exactly to 
those which lago describes, — the one, a 
duteous and knee-crooking knave, doting on 
his own obsequious bondage, wearing out his 
time much like his master's ass; the other 
trimm'd in forms and visages of duty, keeping 
yet his heart attending on himself. When a 
subject differed from his master, the loyal 
path for him to pursue was to use every 
available means to persuade him of his error, 
as Kent did to King Lear. Faihng in this, 
let the master deal with him as he wills. In 
cases of this kind, it was quite a usual course 
for the samurai to make the last appeal to the 


intelligence and conscience of his lord by 
demonstrating the sincerity of his words with 
the shedding of his own blood. 

Life being regarded as the means whereby 
to serve his master, and its ideal being set 
upon honor, the whole 


were conducted accordingly. 

The first point to observe in knightly 
pedagogics was to build up character, leaving 
in the shade the subtler faculties of prudence, 
intelligence and dialectics. We have seen 
the important part aesthetic accomplishments 
played in his education. Indispensable as 
they were to a man of culture, they were 
accessories rather than essentials of samurai 
training. Intell ectual super iority was, of 
course, esteemed ; but the word Chi^ which 
was employed to denote intellectuality, 
meant wisdom in the first instance and 
placed knowledge only in a ver y subordinat e 
place . The tripod that supported the 
framework of Bushido was said to be Chiy 


Jin^ Vu, respectively Wisdom, Benevolence^ 
and Courage . A samura i was essentially a 
man of action . Science was without the 
pale of his activity. He took advantage of 
it in so far as it concerned his profession of 
arms. Religion and theology were relegated 
to the priests; he concerned himself with 
them in so far as they helped to nourish 
courage. Like an English poet the samurai 
believed " 'tis not the creed that saves the 
man ; but it is the man that justifies the 
creed." Philosophy and literature formed 
the chief part of his intellectual training ; but 
even in the pursuit of these, it was not object- 
ive truth that he strove after, — literature was 
pursued mainly as a pastime, and philosophy 
as a practical aid in the formation of 
character, if not for the exposition of some 
military or political problem. 

From what has been said, it will not be 
surprising to note that the curriculum ol 
studies, according to the pedagogics of 
Bushido, consisted mainly of the following, — 
fencing, archery, jiujiitstc or yazvara^ horse- 
manship, the use of the spear, tactics, 
caligraphy, ethics, literature and history. 


O^ thts(t,jmjutsu and caligraphy may require 
a few, words of explanation. Great stress 
was laid on good writing, probably because 
our logograms, partaking as they do of the 
nature of pictures, possess artistic value, and 
also because chirography was accepted as 
indicative of one's personal character. Jiic- 
jiitsii may be briefly defined as an application 
of anatomical knowledge to the purpose of 
offense or defense. It differs from wrestling, 
in that it does not depend upon muscular 
strength. It differs from other forms of 
attack in that it uses no weapon. Its feat 
consists in clutching or striking such part of 
the enemy's body as will make him numb 
and incapable of resistance. Its object is 
not to kill, but to incapacitate one for action 
for the time being. 

A subject of study which one would expect 
to find in military education and which is 
rather conspicuous by its absence in the 
Bushido course of instruction, is mathematics. 
This, however, can be readily explained in 
part by the f:ict that feudal warfare was not 
carried on with scientific precision. Not 
only that, but the whole training of the 


samurai was unfavorable to fostering nu- 
merical notions. 

Chivalry is uneconomical ; it boasts of 
penury. It says with Ventidius that 
** ambition, the soldier's virtue, rather makes 
choice of loss, than gain which darkens 
him." Don Quixote takes more pride in his 
rusty spear and skin-and-bone horse than in 
gold and lands, and a samurai is in hearty 
sympathy with his exaggerated confrere of 
La Mancha. He disdains money itself, — the 
Art of making or hoarding it. It is to him 
veritably filthy lucre. The hackneyed 
expression to describe the decadence of an 
age is " that the civilians loved money and 
the soldiers feared death." Niggardliness of 
gold and of life excite as much disapproba- 
tion as their lavish use is panegyrized. 
** Less than all things," says a current 
precept, *' men must grudge money : it is by 
riches that wisdom is hindered." Hence 
children were brought up with utter disregard 
of economy. It was considered bad taste to 
speak of it, and ignorance of the value of 
different coins was a token of good breeding. 
Knowledge of numbers was indispensable in 

the mustering of forces as well as in the distri- 
bution of benefices and fiefs ; but the counting 
of money was left to meaner hands. In 
many feudatories, public finance was ad- 
ministered by a lower kind of samurai or by 
priests. Every thinking bushi knew well 
enough that money formed the sinews of 
war; but he did not think of raising the 
appreciation of money to a virtue. It is true 
that thrift was enjoined by Bushido, but not 
for economical reasons so much as for the 
exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought 
the greatest menace to manhood , and 
severest simplicity was required of the 
warrior class, sumptuary laws being enforced 
in many of the clans. 

We read that in ancient Rome the farmers 
of revenue and other financial agents were 
gradually raised to the rank of knights, the 
State thereby showing its appreciation of 
their service and of the importance of money 
itself. How closely this was connected with 
the luxury and avarice of the Romans may 
be imagined. Not so with the Precepts of 
Knighthood. These persisted in systematic- 
ally regarding finance as something low — low 


as compared with moral and intellectual 

Money and the love of it being thus 
diligently ignored, Bushido itself could long 
remain free from a thousand and one evils of 
which money is the root. This is sufficient 
reason for the fact that our public men have 
long been free from corruption ; but, alas, 
how fast plutocracy is making its way in our 
time and generation ! 

The mental discipline which would now- 
a-days be chiefly aided by the study of 
mathematics, was supplied by literary ex- 
egesis and deontological discussions. Very 
few abstract subjects troubled the mind of 
the young, the chief aim of their education 
being, as I have said, decision of character. 
People whose minds were simply stored 
with information found no great admirers. 
Of the three services of studies that Bacon 
gives, — for delight, ornament, and ability, — 
Bushido had decided preference for the last, 
where their use was " in judgment and the 
disposition of business." Whether it was 
for the disposition of public business or for 
the exercise of self-control, it was with a 


practical end in view that education was 
conducted. ** Learning without thought," 
said Confucius, '* is labor lost : thought 
without learning is perilous." 

When character and not intelligence, 
when the soul and not the head, is chosen 
by a teacher for the material to work upon 
and to develop, his vocation partakes of a 
sacred character. *' It is the parent who 
has borne me : it is the teacher who makes 
me man." With this idea, therefore, the 
esteem in which one's preceptor was held 
was very high. A man to evoke such 
confidence and respect from the young, must 
necessarily be endowed with superior per- 
sonality without lacking erudition. He was 
a father to the fatherless, and an adviser to 
the erring, " Thy father and thy mother " 
— so runs our maxim — ** are like heaven and 
earth ; thy teacher and thy lord are like the 
sun and moon." 

The present system of paying for every 
sort of service was not in vogue among the 
adherents of Bushido. It believed in a 
service which can be rendered only without 
money and without price. Spiritual service, 


be it of pries t or teacher, was not to be 
repaid in gold or silver, not because it was 
valueless but b ecause it was invaluable . 
Here the non-arithmetical honor-instinct of 
Bushido taught a truer lesson than modern 
Political Economy ; for wages and salaries 
can be paid only for services whose results 
are definite, tangible, and measurable, 
whereas the best service done in education, 
— namely, in soul development (and this 
includes the services of a pastor), is not 
definite, tangible or measurable. Being 
immeasurable, money, the ostensible meas- 
ure of value, is of inadequate use. Usage 
sanctioned that pupils brought to their 
teachers money or goods at different seasons 
of the year ; but these were not payments 
but offerings, which indeed were welcome 
to the recipients as they were usually men 
of stern calibre, boasting of honorable 
penury, too dignified to work with their 
hands and too proud to beg. They were 
grave personifications of high spirits un- 
daunted by adversity. They were an 
embodiment of what was considered as 
an end of all learning, and were thus 


a living example of that discipline of 


which was universally required of samurai. 

The discipline of fortitude on the one 
hand, inculcating endurance without a 
groan, and the teaching of politeness on 
the other, requiring us not to mar the 
pleasure or serenity of another by manifes- 
tations of our own sorrow or pain, combined 
to engender a stoical turn of mind, and 
eventually to confirm it into a national trait 
of apparent stoicism. I say apparent stoi- 
cism, because I do not believe that true 
stoicism can ever become the characteristic 
of a whole nation, and also because some 
of our national manners and customs may 
seem to a foreign observer hard-hearted. 
Yet we are really as susceptible to tender 
emotion as any race under the sky. 

I am inclined to think that in one sense 
we have to feel more than others — yes, 
doubly more — since the very attempt to 
restrain natural promptings entails suffering. 


Imagine boys — and girls too — brought up 
not to resort to the shedding of a tear or the 
uttering of a groan for the reUef of their 
feehngs, — and there is a physiological 
problem whether such effort steels their 
nerves or makes them more sensitive. 

It was conside red unmanly for a samurai 
to betray his emotions on his face. " He 
shows no sign of joy or anger," was a phrase 
used in describing a strong character. The 
most natural affections were kept under 
control. A father could embrace his son only 
at the expense of his dignity ; a husband 
would not kiss his wife, — no, not in the 
presence of other people, whatever he might 
do in private ! There may be some truth in 
the remark of a witty youtli when he said, 
" American husbands kiss their wives in 
public and beat them in private ; Japanese 
husbands beat theirs in public and kiss them 
in private." 

Calmness of behavior , composure of mind , 
should not b e disturbed by passion of any 
kind. I remember when, during the late war 
with China, a regiment left a certain town, 
a large concourse of people flocked to the 


station to bid farewell to the general and his 
army. On this occasion an American 
resident resorted to the place, expecting to 
witness loud demonstrations, as the nation 
itself was highly excited and there were 
fathers, mothers, and sweethearts of the 
soldiers in the crowd. The American was 
strangely disappointed; for as the whistle 
blew and the train began to move, the hats 
of thousands of people were silently taken off 
and their heads bowed in reverential fare- 
well ; no waving of handkerchiefs, no word 
uttered, but deep silence in which only an 
attentive ear could catch a few broken sobs. 
In domestic life, too, I know of a father who 
spent whole nights listening to the breathing 
of a sick child, standing behind the door that 
he might not be caught in such an act of 
parental weakness ! I know of a mother 
who, in her last moments, refrained from 
sending for her son, that he might not be 
disturbed in his studies. Our history and 
everyday life are replete with examples of 
heroic matrons who can well bear com- 
parison with some of the most touching pages 
of Plutarch. Among our peasantry an Ian 


Maclaren would be sure to find many a 
Marget Howe. 

It is the same discipline of self-restraint 
which is accountable for the absence of more 
frequent revivals in the Christian churches 
of Japan. When a man or woman feels his 
or her soul stirred, the first instinct is to 
quietly suppress any indication of it. In 
rare instances is the tongue set free by an 
irresistible spirit, when we have eloquence of 
sincerity and fervor. It is putting a premium 
upon a breach of the third commandment 
to encourage speaking lightly of spiritual 
experience. It is truly jarring to Japanese 
ears to hear the most sacred words, the most 
secret heart experiences, thrown out in pro- 
miscuous audiences. '' Dost thou feel the 
soil of thy soul stirred with tender thoughts i* 
It is time for seeds to sprout. Disturb it not 
with speech ; but let it work alone in 
quietness and secrecy," — writes a young 
samurai in his diary. 

To give in so many articulate words one's 
inmost thoughts and feelings — notably the 
religious — is taken among us as an unmistaka- 
ble sign that they are neither very profound 


nor very sincere. " Only a pomegranate is 
he " — so runs a popular saying — " who, when 
he gapes his mouth, displays the contents of 
his heart." 

It is not altogether perverseness of oriental 
minds that the instant our emotions are 
moved we try to guard our lips in order to 
hide them. Speech is very often with us, as 
the Frenchman defined it, " the art of 
concealing thought." 

Call upon a Japanese friend in time of 
deepest affliction and he will invariably 
receive you laughing, with red eyes or 
moist cheeks. At first you may think him 
hysterical. Press him for explanation and 
you will get a few broken commonplaces — 
*' Human life has sorrow ;" *' They who meet 
must part ;" " He that is born must die ;" 
" It is foolish to count the years of a child 
that is gone, but a woman's heart will 
indulge in follies ;" and the like. So the 
noble words of a noble Hohenzollern — 
" Lerne zu leiden ohne Klagen " — had found 
many responsive minds among us, long be- 
fore they were uttered. 

Indeed, the Japanese have recourse to^ 


risibility whenever the frailties of human 
nature are put to severest test. I think we 
possess a better reason than Democritus him- 
self for our Abderian tendency ; for laughter 
with us oftenest veils an effort to regain 
balance of temper, when disturbed by any 
untoward circumstance. It is a counterpoise 
-of sorrow or rage. 

The suppression of feelings being thus 
steadily insisted upon, they find their safety- 
valve in poetical aphorism. A poet of the 
tenth century writes, *' In Japan and China 
as well, humanity, when moved by sorrow, 
tells its bitter grief in verse." A mother who 
tries to console her broken heart by fancying 
her departed child absent on his wonted 
chase after the dragon-fly, hums, 
" How far to day in chase, I wonder, 
Has gone my hunter of the dragon-fly !" 

I refrain from quoting other examples, for 
I know I could do only scant justice to the 
pearly gems of our literature, were I to 
render into a foreign tongue the thoughts 
which were wrung drop by drop from bleed- 
ing hearts and threaded into beads of rarest 
-value. I hope I have in a measure shown 

that inner working" ot our minds which often 
presents an appearance of callousness or of 
an hysterical mixture of laughter and 
dejection, and whose sanity is sometimes 
called in question. 

It has also been suggested that our en- 
durance of pain and indifference to death 
are due to less sensitive nerves. This is 
plausible as far as it goes. The next ques- 
tion is, — Why are our nerves less tightly 
strung ? It may be our climate is not so 
stimulating as the American. It may be 
our monarchical form of government does 
not excite us as much as the Republic does 
the Frenchman. It may be that we do not 
read Sartor Resartiis as zealously as the 
Englishman. Personally, I believe it was 
our very excitability and sensitiveness which 
made it a necessity to recognize and enforce 
constant self-repression; but whatever may 
be the explanation, without taking into ac- 
count long years of discipline in self-control, 
none can be correct. 

Discipline in self- control can easily go 
too far. It can well repress the genial 
current of the soul. It can force pliant 


natures into distortions and monstrosities. 
It can beget bigotry, breed hypocrisy or 
hebetate affections. Be a virtue never so 
noble, it has its counterpart and counterfeit. 
AVe must recognize in each virtue its own 
positive excellence and follow its positive 
ideal, and the ideal of self-restraint is to 
keep our mind leve l — as our expression is 
— or, to borrow a Greek term, attain the 
state of eiithyuiia, which Democritus called 
the highest good. 

^-The acme of self-control is reached and 
best illustrated in the first of the two insti- 
tutions which we shall now bring to view; 


of which (the former known as hara-kiri 
and the latter as kataki-iichi) many foreign 
writers have treated more or less fully. 

To begin with suicide, let me state that 
I confine my observations only to seppiiku 
or kappnkuy popularly known as hara-kiri 
— which means self-immolation by disem- 


bowelment. *' Ripping the abdomen ? How 
absurd ! " — so cry those to whom the name 
is new. Absurdly odd as it may sound at 
first to foreign ears, it can not be so very 
foreign to students of Shakespeare, who 
puts these words in Brutus' mouth — " Thy 
(Caesar's) spirit walks abroad and turns our 
swords into our proper entrails." Listen to 
a modern English poet, who in his Light of 
Asia, speaks of a sword piercing the bowels 
of a queen : — none blames him for bad 
English or breach of modesty. Or, to take 
still another example, look at Guercino's 
painting of Cato's death, in the Palazzo Rossa 
in Genoa. Whoever has read the swan- 
song which Addison makes Cato sing, will 
not jeer at the sword half-buried in his 
abdomen. In our minds this mode of death 
is associated with instances of noblest deeds 
and of most touching pathos, so that nothing 
repugnant, much less ludicrous, mars our 
conception of it. So wonderful is the trans- 
forming power of virtue, of greatness, of 
tenderness, that the vilest form of death 
assumes a sublimity and becomes a sy'mbol 
of new life, or else — the sign which Con- 


stantine beheld would not conquer the 
world ! 

Not for extraneous associations only does 
seppiiku lose in our mind any taint of ab- 
surdity; Tor the choice of this particular 
part of the body to operate upon, was based 
on an old anatomical belief as to jthe seat 
^f_the_^ouL-.ajid_,of the affection s. \ WHeiT 
Moses wrote of Joseph's '* bowels yearning 
upon his brother," or David prayed the 
Lord not to forget his bowels, or when 
Isaiah, Jeremiah and other inspired men 
of old spoke of the " sounding " or the 
"troubling" of bowels, they all and each 
endorsed the belief prevalent among the 
Japanese that in the abdomen was enslirin^d^ 
thfi_soul. The Semites habitually spoke of j 
the liver and kidneys and surrounding fat as i 
ithe seat of emotion and of life. The term 
nara was more cu^iTiprehensive than the 
Greek phren or thumos, and the Japanese 
and Hellenese alike thought the spirit of 
man to dwell somewhere in that region. 
Such a notion is by no means confined ta 
the peoples of antiquity. The French, in 
spite of the theory propounded by one o£ 


their most distinguished philosophers, Des- 
cartes, that the soul is located in the pineal 
gland, still insist in using the term ventre 
in a sense, which, if anatomically too vague, 
is nevertheless physiologically significant. 
Similarly entrailles stands in their language^ 
for affection and compassion. \ Nor is such^ 
belief mere superstition, being more scien- 
tific than the general idea of making the 
heart the centre of the feelings. Without 
asking a friar, the Japanese knew better 
than Romeo "in what vile part of this 
anatomy one's name did lodge." Modern 
neurologists speak of the abdominal and 
pelvic brains, denoting thereby sympathetic 
nerve-centres in those parts which are 
strongly affected by any psychical action. 
This view of mental physiology once ad- 
mitted, the syllogism of seppiiku is easy to 
construct. " I will open the seat of my 
soul and show you how it fares with it. 
See for yourself whether it is polluted or 
clean." .j 

I do not wish to be understood as assert- 
ing religious or even moral justification of 
suicide, but the high estimate placed upon 


honor was ample excuse with many for 
taking one's own life. How many acqui- 
esced in the sentiment expressed by Garth, 

" When honor's lost, 'tis a relief to die ; 
Death's but a sure retreat from infamy," 

and have smilingly surrendered their souls 
to oblivion ! Death when honor was in- 
volved, was accepted in Bushido as a key to 
the solution of many complex problems , so 
that to an ambitious samurai a natural de- 
parture from life seemed a rather tame affair 
and a consummation not devoutly to be 
wished for. I dare say that many good 
Christians, if only they are honest enough, 
will confess the fascination of, if not positive 
admiration for, the sublime composure with 
which Cato, Brutus, Petronius and a host 
of other ancient worthies, terminated their 
own earthly existence. Is it too bold to 
hint that the death of the first of the phi- 
losophers was partly suicidal .'* When we 
are told so minutely by his pupils how their 
master willingly submitted to the mandate 
of the state — which he knew was morally 
mistaken — in spite of the possibilities of 
escape, and how he took up the cup of 


hemlock in his own hand, even offering^ 
libation from its deadly contents, do we 
not discern in his whole proceeding and 
demeanor, an act of self-immolation ? No 
physical compulsion here, as in ordinary 
cases of execution. True the verdict ot 
the judges was compulsory : it said, " Thou 
shalt die,— and that by thy own hand." If 
suicide meant no more than dying by one's 
own hand, Socrates was a clear case of 
suicide. But nobody would charge him 
with the crime ; Plato, who was averse to 
it, would not call his master a suicide. 

Now my readers will understand that 
seppukii was not a mere suicidal process. 
It was an institution, legal and ceremonial. 
An invention of the middle ages, it was a 
process by which warriors could expiate 
their crimes, apologize for errors, escape 
from disgrace, redeem their friends, or prove 
their sincerity. When enforced as a legal 
punishment, it was practiced with due cere- 
mony. It was a refinement of self-destruc- 
tion, and none could perform it without the 
utmost coolness of temper and composure 
of demeanor, and for these reasons it was 


particularly befitting the profession of bushi. 

Antiquarian curiosity, if nothing else, would 
tempt me to give here a description of this 
obsolete ceremonial ; but seeing that such 
a description was made by a far abler 
writer, whose book is not much read now- 
a-days, I am tempted to make a somewhat 
lengthy quotation. Mitford, in his " Tales 
of Old Japan," after giving a translation of 
a treatise on" seppiiku from a rare Japanese 
manuscript, goes on to describe an instance 
of such an execution of which he was an 
eye-witness : — 

" We (seven foreign representatives) were 
invited to follow the Japanese witness into 
the hoiido or main hall of the temple, where 
the ceremony was to be performed. It was 
an imposing scene. A large hall with a 
high roof supported by dark pillars of wood. 
From the ceiling hung a profusion of those 
huge gilt lamps and ornaments peculiar to 
Buddhist temples. In front of the high 
altar, where the floor, covered with beauti- 
ful white mats, is raised some three or four 
inches from the ground, was laid a rug of 
scarlet felt. Tall candles placed at regular 


intervals gave out a dim mysterious light, 
just sufficient to let all the proceedings be 
seen. The seven Japanese took their places 
on the left of the raised floor, the seven 
foreigners on the right. No other person 
was present. 

"After the interval of a few minutes of 
anxious suspense, Taki Zenzaburo, a stal- 
wart man thirty- two years of age, with a 
noble air, walked into the hall attired in 
his dress of ceremony, with the peculiar 
hempen-cloth wings which are worn on 
great occasions. He was accompanied by 
a kaishakii and three officers, who wore 
t\\Q:jimbaori or*war surcoat with gold tissue 
facings. The word kaishakUy it should be 
observed, is one to which our word ex- 
ecutioner is no equivalent term. The office 
is that of a gentleman : in many cases it is 
performed by a kinsman or friend of the 
condemned, and the relation between them 
is rather that of principal and second than 
that of victim and executioner. In this 
instance the kaisJiakii was a pupil of Taki 
Zenzaburo, and was selected by friends of 
the latter from among their own number 


for his skill in swordsmanship. 

'*With the kaishaku on his left hand^ 
Taki Zenzaburo advanced slowly towards 
the Japanese witnesses, and the two bowed 
before them, then drawing near to the 
foreigners they saluted us in the same way,, 
perhaps even with more deference ; in each 
case the salutation was ceremoniously 
returned. Slowly and with great dignity 
the condemned man mounted on to the 
raised floor, prostrated himself before the 
high altar twice, and seated" himself on the 
felt carpet with his back to the high altar, 
the kaishaku crouching on his left hand 
side. One of the three atftndant officers 
then came forward, bearing a stand of the 
kind used in the temple for offerings, on 
which, wrapped in paper, lay the wakizashi, 
the short sword or dirk of the Japanese, 
nine inches and a half in length, with a 
point and an edge as sharp as a razor's. 
This he handed, prostrating himself, to the 

* Seated himself — that is, in the Japanese fashion, his 
knees and toes touching the ground and his body resting 
on his heels. In this position, which is one of respect, he 
remained until his death. 


condemned man, who received it reverently, 
raising it to his head with both hands, and 
placed it in front of himself. 

" After another profound obeisance, Taki 
Zenzaburo, in a voice which betrayed just so 
much emotion and hesitation as might be 
expected from a man who is making a 
painful confession, but with no sign of either 
in his face or manner, spoke as follows : — 

* I, and I alone, unwarrantably gave the 
order to fire on the foreigners at Kobe, and 
again as they tried to escape. For this 
crime I disembowel myself, and I beg you 
who are present to do me the honor of 
witnessing the act.' 

'' Bowing once more, the speaker allowed 
his upper garments to slip down to his 
girdle, and rem.ained naked to the waist. 
Carefully, according to custom, he tucked 
his sleeves under his knees to prevent 
himself from falling backward ; for a noble 
Japanese gentleman should die falling for- 
wards. Deliberately, with a steady hand 
he took the dirk that lay before him; he 
looked at it wistfully, almost affectionately ; 
for a moment he seemed to collect his 


thoughts for the last time, and then stabbing^ 
himself deeply below the waist in the left- 
hand side, he drew the dirk slowly across 
to his right side, and turning it in the 
wound, gave a slight cut upwards. During 
this sickeningly painful operation he never 
moved a muscle of his face. When he drew 
out the dirk, he leaned forward and stretch- 
ed out his neck; ^n expression of pain for 
the first time crossed his face, but he uttered 
no sound. At that moment the kaishakii, 
who, still crouching by his side, had been 
keenly watching his every movement, sprang 
to his feet, poised his sword for a second in 
the air; there was a flash, a heavy, ugly 
thud, a crashing fall; with one blow the 
head had been severed from the body. 

" A dead silence followed, broken only by 
the hideous noise of the blood throbbing out 
of the inert head before us, which but a 
moment before had been a brave and 
chivalrous man. It was horrible. 

" The kaishakii made a low bow, wiped 
his sword with a piece of paper which he 
had ready for the purpose, and retired from 
the raised floor; and the stained dirk was 


solemnly borne away, a bloody proof of the 

" The two representatives ot the Mikado 
then left their places, and crossing over to 
where the foreign witnesses sat, called to us 
to witness that the sentence of death upon 
Taki Zenzaburo had been faithfully carried 
out. The ceremony being at an end, we left 
the temple." 

I might multiply any number of descrip- 
tions of 5^//?//^// from literature or from the 
relation of eye-witnesses ; but one more 
instance will suffice. 

Two brothers, Sakon and Naiki, respect- 
ively twenty-four and seventeen years of 
age, made an effort to kill lyeyasu in order 
to avenge their father's wrongs ; but before 
they could enter the camp they were made 
prisoners. The old general admired the 
pluck of the youths who dared an attempt 
on his life and ordered that they should be 
allowed to die an honorable death. Their 
little brother Hachimaro, a mere infant of 
eight summers, was condemned to a similar 
fate, as the sentence was pronounced on all 
the male members of the family, and the 

three were taken to a monastery where it 
was to be executed. A physician who was 
present on the occasion has left us a diary 
from which the following scene is translated. 
'* When they were all seated in a row for final 
despatch, Sakon turned to the youngest and 
said — * Go thou first, for I wish to be sure 
that thou doest it aright.' Upon the little 
one's replying that, as he had never seen 
seppuku performed, he would like to see his 
brothers do it and then he could follow 
them, the older brothers smiled between 
their tears : — ' Well said, little fellow ! So 
canst thou well boast of being our father's 
child.' When they had placed him between 
them, Sakon thrust the dagger into the left 
side of his own abdomen and asked — ' Look,, 
brother ! Dost understand now ? Only, 
don't push the dagger too far, lest thou fall 
back. Lean forward, rather, and keep thy 
knees well composed.' Naiki did likewise 
and said to the boy — * Keep thy eyes open 
or else thou mayst look like a dying woman. 
If thy dagger feels anything within and thy 
strength fails, take courage and double thy 
effort to cut across/ The child looked from 

one to the other, and when both had ex- 
pired, he calmly half denuded himself and 
followed the example set him on either 

The glorification of seppuku offered, 
naturally enough, no small temptation to 
its unwarranted committal. For causes 
entirely incompatible with reason, or for 
reasons entirely undeserving of death, hot 
headed youths rushed into it as insects fly 
into fire ; mixed and dubious motives drove 
more samurai to this deed than nuns into 
convent gates. Life was cheap — cheap as 
reckoned by the popular standard of honor. 
The saddest feature was that honor, which 
was always in the agio, so to speak, was not 
always solid gold, but alloyed with baser 
metals. No one circle in the Inferno will 
boast of greater density of Japanese popula- 
tion than the seventh, to which Dante con- 
signs all victims of self-destruction ! 

And yet, for a true samurai to hasten 
death or to court it, was alike cowardice. 
A typical fighter, when he lost battle after 
battle and was pursued from plain to hill 
and from bush to cavern, found himself 


hungry and alone in the dark hollow ot a 
tree, his sword blunt with use, his bow 
broken and arrows exhausted — did not the 
noblest of the Romans fall upon his own 
sword in Phillippi under like circumstances ? 
— deemed it cowardly to die, but with a 
fortitude ?ipproaching a Christian martyr's, 
cheered himself with an impromptu verse: 

" Come ! evermore come, 

Ye dread sorrows and pains ! 
And heap on my burden'd back ; 

That I not one test may lack 
Of what strength in me remains !" 

This, then, was the Bushido teaching — 
Eear and face all calamities and adversiti es 
with patience and a pure conscience ; for as 
Mencius* taught, *' When Heaven is about 
to confer a great office on anyone, it first 
exercises his mind with suffering and his 
sinews and bones with toil ; it exposes his 
body to hunger and subjects him to extreme 
poverty ; and it confounds his undertakings. 
In all these ways it stimulates his mind, 
hardens his nature, and supplies his incom- 
petencies." True honor lies in fulfilling 

* I use Dr. Legge's translation verbatim. 

Heaven's decree and no death incurred in 
so doing is ignominious, whereas death to 
avoid what Heaven has in store is cowardly 
indeed ! In that quaint book of Sir Thomas 
Browne's, Rcligio Medlciy there is an exact 
Enghsh equivalent for what is repeatedly 
taught in our Precepts. Let me quote it : 
** It is a brave act of valor to contemn death, 
but where life is more terrible than death, 
it is then the truest valor to dare to live." 
A renowned priest of the seventeenth cen- 
tury satirically observed — ** Talk as he may, 
a samurai who ne'er has died is apt in 
decisive moments to flee or hide." Again — 
" Him who once has died in the bottom of 
his breast, no spears of Sanada nor all the 
arrows of Sanetomo can pierce." How 
near we come to the portals of the temple 
whose Builder taught " he that loscth his 
life for my sake shall find it ! " These are 
but a few of the numerous examples which 
tend to confirm the moral identity of the 
human species, notwithstanding an attempt 
so assiduously made to render the distinc- 
tion between Christian and Pagan as great 
as possible. 


Wc have thus seen that the Bushido in- 

r stitution of suicide was neither so irrational 
nor barbarous as its abuse strikes us at first 
sight. We will now see whether its sister 

institution of Redress — or call it Revenge, 
if you will — has its mitigating features. I 
hope I can dispose of this question in a few 
words, since a similar institution, or call it 
custom, if that suits you better, has at some 
time prevailed among all peoples and has 
not yet become entirely obsolete, as attested 
by the continuance of duelling and lynching. 
Why, has not an American captain recently 
challenged Esterhazy, that the wrongs of 
Dreyfus be avenged ? Among a savage 
tribe which has no marriage, adultery is 
not a sin, and only the jealousy of a lover 
protects a woman from abuse : so in a time 
which has no criminal court, murder is not 
a crime, and only the vigilant vengeance 
of the victim's people preserves social order. 
" What is the most beautiful thing on 
earth.?" said Osiris to Horus. The reply 
was, " To avenge a parent's wrongs," — to 
which a Japanese would have added *'and 


In revenge there is something which 
satisfies one's sense of justice. The avenger 
reasons : — '' My good father did not deserve 
death. He who killed him did great evil. 
My father, if he were aHve, would not 
tolerate a deed like this: Heaven itself 
hates wrong-doing. It is the will of my 
father; it is the will of Heaven that the evil- 
doer cease from his work. He must perish 
by my hand ; because he shed my father's 
blood, I, who am his flesh and blood, must 
shed the murderer's. The same Heaven 
shall not shelter him and me." The ratio- 
cination is simple and childish (though we 
know Hamlet did not reason much more 
deeply), nevertheless it shows an innate 
sense of exact balance and equal justice 
^* An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." 
Our sense of revenge is as exact as our 
mathematical faculty, and until both terms 
of the equation are satisfied we cannot get 
over the sense of something left undone. 

In Judaism, which believed in a jealous 
God, or in Greek miythology, which provid- 
ed a Nemesis, vengeance may be left to 
superhuman agencies ; but common sense 


furnished Bushido with the institution of 
redress as a kind of ethical court of equity, 
where people could take cases not to be 
judged in accordance with ordinary law. 
The master of the forty-seven Ronins was 
condemned to death ; — he had no court of 
higher instance to appeal to ; his faithful 
retainers addressed themselves to Venge- 
ance, the only Supreme Court existing; 
they in their turn were condemned by com- 
mon law, — but the popular instinct passed a 
different judgment and hence their memory 
is still kept as green and fragrant as are 
their graves at Sengakuji to this day. 

Though Lao-tse taught to Recompense 
injury with kindness, the voice of Confuciu s 
was very much louder, which counselled that 
injury must be recompensed with just ice ; — 
and yet revenge was justified only when it 
was undertaken in behalf of our superiors 
and benefactors . One's own wrongs, includ- 
ing injuries done to wife and children, were 
to be borne and forgiven. A samurai could 
therefore fully sympathize with Hannibal's 
oath to avenge his country's wrongs, but he 
scorns James Hamilton for wearing in his 


girdle a handful of earth from his wife's 
grave, as an eternal incentive to avenge her 
wrongs on the Regent Murray. 

Both of these institutions of suicide and 
redress lost their raisori d^etre at the pro- 
mulgation of the criminal code. No more 
do we hear of romantic adventures of a fair 
maiden as she tracks in disguise the murderer 
of her parent. No more can we witness 
tragedies of family vendetta enacted. The 
knight errantry of Miyamoto Musashi is now 
a tale of the past. The well-ordered police 
spies out the criminal for the injured party 
and the law metes out justice. The whole 
state and society will see that wrong is 
righted. The sense of justice satisfied, there 
is no need oi kataki-ucJii. If this had meant 
that '' hunger of the heart which feeds upon 
the hope of glutting that hunger with the 
life-blood of the victim," as a New England 
divine has described it, a few paragraphs in 
the Criminal Code would not so entirely 
have made an end of it. 

As to seppiiku, though it too has no 
existence de jure, we still hear of it from 
time to time, and shall continue to hear, I 


am afraid, as long as the past is remembered. 
Many painless and time-saving methods of 
self-immolation will come in vogue, as its 
votaries are increasing with fearful rapidity 
throughout the world ; but Professor Morselli 
will have to concede to seppukii an aristo- 
cratic position among them. He maintains 
that " when suicide is accomplished by very 
painful means or at the cost of prolonged 
agony, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, 
it may be assigned as the act of a mind 
disordered by fanaticism, by madness, or by 
morbid excitement."* But a normal seppuku 
does not savor of fanaticism, or madness 
or excitement, utmost sang froid being 
necessary to its successful accomplishment. 
Of the two kinds into which Dr. Strahanf 
divides suicide, the Rational or Quasi, and 
the Irrational or True, seppuku is the best 
example of the former type. 

From these bloody institutions, as well 
as from the general tenor of Bushido, it is 
easy to infer that the sword played an im- 
portant part in social discipline and life. The 

* Morselli, Suicide, p. 314. 
•f" Suicide and Insanity. 

saying passed as an .axiom which called 


and made it the emblem of power and 
prowess. When Mahomet proclaimed that 
■" The sword is the key of Heaven and of 
Hell," he only echoed a Japanese sentiment. 
Very early the samurai boy learned to wield 
it. It was a momentous occasion for him 
when at the age of five he was apparelled 
in the paraphernalia of samurai costume, 
placed upon a ^d7-board* and initiated into 
the rights of the military profession by 
having thrust into his girdle a real sword, 
instead of the toy dirk with which he had 
been playing. After this first ceremony of 
adoptio per anna, he was no more to be 
seen outside his father's gates without this 
badge of his status, even if it was usually 

* The game of go is sometimes called Japanese checkers, 
but is much more intricate than the English game. The go- 
board contains 361 squares and is supposed to represent a 
battle-field — the object of the game being to occupy as much 
space as possible. 


substituted for evcry-day wear by a gilded 
wooden . dirk. Not many years pass before 
he wears constantly the genuine steel, though 
blunt, and then the sham arms are thrown 
aside and with enjoyment keener than his 
newly acquired blades, he marches out to 
try their edge on wood and stone. When 
he reaches man's estate at the age of fifteen, 
being given independence of action, he can 
now pride himself upon the possession ot 
arms sharp enough for any work. The 
very possession of the dangerous instrument 
imparts to him a feeling and an air of self- 
respect and responsibility. " He beareth 
not his sword in vain." What he carries in 
his belt is a symbol of what he carries in his 
mind and heart— Loyalty and Honor. The 
two swords, the longer and the shorter — 
called respectively daito and shoto or katana 
and zvakizashi — never leave his side. When 
at home, they grace the most conspicuous 
place in study or parlor; by night they 
guard his pillow within easy reach of his 
hand. Constant companions, they are be- 
loved, and proper names of endearment 
given them. Being venerated, they are 

well-nigh worshiped. The Father of His- 
tory has recorded as a curious piece o( 
information that the Scythians sacrificed 
to an iron scimitar. Many a temple and 
many a family in Japan hoards a sword as 
an object of adoration. Even the commonest 
dirk has due respect paid to it. Any insult 
to it is tantamount to personal affront. Woe 
to him who carelessly steps over a weapon 
lying on the floor ! 

So precious an object cannot long escape 
the notice and the skill of artists nor the 
vanity of its owner, especially in times of 
peace, when it is worn with no more use 
than a crosier by a bishop or a sceptre by 
a king. Shark-skin and finest silk for hilt^ 
silver and gold for guard, lacquer of varied 
hues for scabbard, robbed the deadliest 
weapon of half its terror ; but these appur- 
tenances are playthings compared with the 
blade itself. 

The swordsmith was not a mere artisan 
but an inspired artist and his workshop a 
sanctuary. Daily he commenced his craft 
with prayer and purification, or, as the 
phrase was, " he committed his soul and 


spirit into the forging and tempering of the 
steel." Every swing of the sledge, every 
plunge into water, every friction on the 
grindstone, was a religious act of no slight 
import. Was it the spirit of the master or 
of his tutelary god that cast a formidable 
spell over our sword ? Perfect as a work 
of art, setting at defiance its Toledo and 
Damascus rivals, there is more than art could 
impart. Its cold blade, collecting on its 
surface the moment it is drawn the vapors 
of the atmosphere ; its immaculate texture, 
flashing light of bluish hue ; its matchless 
edge, upon which histories and possibilities 
hang; the curve of its back, uniting exquisite 
grace with utmost strength ;— all these thrill 
us with mixed feelings of power and beauty, 
of awe and terror. Harmless were its mis- 
sion, if it only remained a thing of beauty 
and joy ! But, ever within reach of the 
hand, it presented no small temptation for 
abuse. Too often did the blade flash forth 
from its peaceful sheath. The abuse some- 
times went so far as to try the acquired steel 
on some harmless creature's neck. 

The question that concerns us most is, 


however, — Did Bushido justify the promiscu- 
Qus use of the weapon ? The answer is 
unequivocally, no ! As it laid great stress on 
its proper 'ise, so did it denounce and abhor 
its misuse. A dastard or a braggart was he 
who brandished his weapon on undeserved 
occasions. '*' A self-possessed man knows th e 
right time to use it, and such times come 
but rarely. Let us listen to the late Count 
Katsu, who passed through one of the most 
turbulent times of our history, when assas- 
sinations, suicides, and other sanguinary 
practices were the order of the day. En- 
dowed as he once was with almost dictatorial 
powers, repeatedly marked out as an object 
for assassination, he never tarnished his sword 
with blood. In relating some of his remi- 
niscences to a friend he says, in a quaint, 
plebeian way peculiar to him : — " I have 
a great dishke for killing people and so I 
haven't killed one single man. I have 
released those wdiose heads should have 
been chopped off. A friend said to me one 
day, * You don't kill enough. Don't you eat 
pepper and egg-plants } ' Well, some people 
are no better ! But you see that fellow was 


slain himself. My escape may be due to 
my dislike of killing. I had the hilt of my 
sword so tightly fastened to the scabbard 
that it was hard to draw the blade. I made 
up my mind that though they cut me, I 
will not cut. Yes, yes ! some people are 
truly like fleas and mosquitoes and they 
bite — but what does their biting amount to ? 
It itches a little, that's all ; it won't endanger 
life." These are the words of one whose 
Bushido training was tried in the fiery 
furnace of adversity and triumph. The 
popular apothegm — " To be beaten is to 
conquer," meaning true conquest consists 
in not opposing a riotous foe ; and " The 
best won victory is that obtained without 
shedding of blood," and others of similar 
import — will show that after all the ultimate 
ideal of knighthood was Peace. 

It was a great pity that this high ideal 
was left exclusively to priests and moralists 
to preach, while the samurai w^ent on 
practicing and extolling martial traits. In 
this they went so far as to tinge the ideals of 
womanhood with Amazonian character. 
Here we may profitably devote a few 


paragraphs to the subject of 


The female half of our species has some- 
times been called the paragon of paradoxes, 
because the intuitive working of its mind 
is beyond the comprehension of men's 
** arithmetical understanding." The Chinese 
ideogram denoting ♦* the mysterious," "the 
unknowable," consists of two parts, one 
meaning ** young" and the other "woman," 
because the physical charms and delicate 
thoughts of the fair sex are above the coarse 
mental calibre of our sex to explain. 

In the Bushido ideal of woman, however, 
there is little mystery and only a seeming 
paradox. I have said that it was Amazonian, 
but that is only half the truth. Ideograph- 
ically the Chinese represent wife by a 
woman holding a broom — certainly not to 
brandish it offensively or defensively against 
her conjugal ally, neither for witchcraft, but 
for the more harmless uses for which the 
besom was first invented — the idea involved 


being thus not less homely than the etymo- 
logical derivation of the English wife 
(weaver) and daughter {duhitai-^ milkmaid). 
Without confining the sphere of woman's 
activity to Kilche, Kirche, Kinder, as the 
present German Kaiser is said to do, the 
^ushido ideal of womanhood was pre - 
eminently domestic. These seeming contra- 
dictions — Domesticity and Amazonian traits 
— are not inconsistent with the Precepts of 
Knighthood, as we shall see. 

Bushido being a teaching primarily 
intended for the masculine sex, the vjrtues it 
prized in woman were naturally far from 
being distinctly feminine. Winckelmann 
remarks that " the supreme beauty of Greek 
art is rather male than female," and Lecky 
adds that it was true in the moral conception 
of the Greeks as in their art. Bushido 
similarly praised those women most *• who 
emancipated themselves from the frailty of 
their sex and displayed an heroic fortitude 
worthy of the strongest and the bravest of 
men."* Young girls therefore, were trained 
to repress their feelings , to indurate their 

* LecV.y, History of Etiropcan Morals II, p. 383. 


nerves, to manipulate weapons, — especially 
the long-handled sword called nagi-natUy so 
as to be able to hold their own against 
unexpected odds. Yet the primary motive 
for exercises of this martial character was 

-^^ r 

not for use in the field : it was twofold — 

personal and domestic . Woman owning no 
suzerain of her own, formed her own body- 
guard. With her weapon she guarded her 
personal sanctity with as m.uch zeal as her 
husband did his master's. The domestic 
utility of her warlike training was in the 
education of her sons, as we shall see later. 

Fencing and similar exercises, if rarely of 
practical use, were a wholesome counter- 
balance to the otherwise sedentary habits of 
woman. But these exercises were not 
followed only for hygienic purposes. They 
could be turned into use in times of need. 
Girls, when they reached womanhood, were 
presented with dirks {kai-ken, pocket pon- 
iards), which might be directed to the bosom 
of their assailants, or, if advisable, to their 
own. The latter was very often the case : 
and yet I will not judge them severely. Even 
the Christian conscience with its horror of 


•self-immolation, will not be harsh with them, 
seeing Pelagia and Domnina, two suicides, 
were canonized for their purity and piety. 
When a Japanese Virginia saw her chastity 
menaced, she did not wait for her father's 
dagger. Her own weapon lay always in her 
bosom. It was a disgrace to her not to 
Icnow the proper way in which she had to 
perpetrate self-destruction. For example, 
little as she was taught in anatomy, she must 
know the exact spot to cut in her throat: 
she must know how to tie her lower limbs 
together with a belt so that, whatever the 
agonies of death might be, her corpse be 
found in utmost modesty with the limbs 
properly composed. Is not a caution like 
this worthy of the Christian Perpetua or the 
Vestal Cornelia ? I would not put such an 
abrupt interrogation, were it not for a 
misconception, based on our bathing customs 
and other trifles, that chastity is unknown 
among us."^ On the contrary, chastity was 
a pre«eminent virtue of the samurai woman, 
held above life itself A young woman, 

* For a very sensible explanation of nudity and bathing 
■see Finck's Lotos Time in Japa7t^ pp. 286-297. 


taken prisoner, seeing- herself in danger of" 
violence at the hands of the rough soldiery, 
says she will obey their pleasure, provided 
she be first allowed to write a line to her 
sisters, whom war has dispersed in every 
direction. When the epistle is finished, off 
she runs to the nearest well and saves her 
honor by drowning. The letter she leaves 
behind ends with these verses ; — 

" For fear lest clouds may dim her light, 
Should she but graze this nether sphere, 
The young moon poised above the height 
Doth hastily betake to flight." 

It would be unfair to give my readers an 
idea that masculinity alone was our highest 
ideal for woman. Far from it ! Accom- 
plishments and the gentler graces of life 
were required of them. Music, dancing and 
literature were not neglected. Some of the 
finest verses in our literature were expres- 
sions of feminine sentiments ; in fact, women 
played an important role in the history of 
Japanese belles lettres. Dancing was taught 
(I am speaking of samurai girls and not of 
geisha) only to smooth the angularity of 
their movements. Music was to regale the 


Avcary hours of their fathers and husbands ; 
hence it was not for the technique, the art as 
such, that music was learned ; for the 
ultimate object was purification of heart, 
since it was said that no harmony of sound 
is attainable without the player's heart being 
in harmony with itself " Here again we see 
the same idea prevailing which we notice in 
the training of youths— that accomplishments 
w^ere ever kept subservient to moral worth. 
Just enough of music and dancing to add 
grace and brightness to life, but never to 
foster vanity and extravagance. I sympa- 
thize with the Persian prince, who, when 
taken into a ball-room in London and asked 
to take part in the merriment, bluntly 
remarked that in his country they provided 
a particular set of girls to do that kind of 
business for them. 

The accomplishments of our women were 
not acquired for show or social ascendency. 
They were a home diversion ; and if they 
shone in social parties, it was as the attributes 
of a hostess, — in other words, as a part of 
the household contrivance for hospitality. 
Domesticity guided their education. It may 


be said that the accomplishments of the 
women of Old Japan, be they martial or 
pacific in character, were mainly intended 
for the home ; and, however far they might 
roam, they never lost sight of the hearth as 
the center. It was to maintain its honor 
and integrity that they slaved, drudged and 
gave up their lives. Night and day, in tones 
at once firm and tender, brave and plaintive, 
they sang to their little nests. As daughter, 
woman sacrificed herself for her father, as 
wife for her husband, and as mother for her 
son. Thus from earliest youth she was 
taught to deny herself. Her life was not 
one of independence, but of dependent 
service. Man's helpmeet, if her presence is 
helpful she stays on the stage with him : if 
it hinders his work, she retfres behind the 
curtain. Not infrequently does it happen 
that a youth becomes enamored of a maiden 
who returns his love with equal ardor, but, 
when she realizes his interest in her makes 
him forgetful of his duties, disfigures her 
person that her attractions may cease. 
Adzuma, the ideal wife in the minds of 
samurai girls, finds herself loved by a man 


who, in order to win her affection, conspires 
against her husband. Upon pretence of 
joining in the guilty plot, she manages in 
the dark to take her husband's place, and 
the sword of the lover assassin descends 
upon her own devoted head. 

The following epistle written by the wife 
of a young daimio, before taking her own 
life, needs no comment : — " Oft have I heard 
that no accident or chance ever mars the 
march of events here below, and that all 
moves in accordance with a plan. To take 
shelter under a common bough or a drink of 
the same river, is alike ordained from ages 
prior to our birth. Since we were joined in 
ties of eternal wedlock, now two short years 
ago, my heart hath followed thee, even as 
its shadow followeth an object, inseparably 
bound heart to heart, loving and being 
loved. Learning but recently, however, 
that the coming battle is to be the last of thy 
labor and life, take the farewell greeting of 
thy loving partner. I have heard that Ko-u, 
the mighty warrior of ancient China, lost a 
battle, loth to part with his favorite Gu. 
Yoshinaka, too, brave as he was, brought 


disaster to his cause, too weak to bid 
prompt farewell to his wife. Why should 
I, to whom earth no longer offers hope or 
joy — why should I detain thee or thy 
thoughts by living? Why should I not, 
rather, await thee on the road which all 
mortal kind must sometime tread ? Never, 
prithee, never forget the many benefits which 
our good master Hideyori hath heaped 
upon thee. The gratitude we owe him is 
as deep as the sea and as high as the hills." 
Woman's surrender of herself to the good 
of her husband, home and family, was as 
willing and honorable as the man's self- 
surrender to the good of his lord and 
country. Self-renunciation, without which 
no life-enigma can be solved, was the key- 
note of the Loyalty of man as well as of the 
Domesticity of woman . She was no more 
the slave of man than was her husband of 
his liege-lord, and the part she played was 
recognized as Naijo, " the inner help." In 
the ascending scale of service stood woman, 
who annihilated herself for man, that he 
might annihilate himself for the master, that 
he in turn might obey heaven. I know the 


weakness of this teaching and that the 
superiority of Christianity is nowhere more 
manifest than here, in that it requires of each 
and every Hving soul direct rcsponsibihty to 
its Creator. Nevertheless, as far as the 
doctrine of service — the serving of a cause 
higher than one's own self, even at the 
sacrifice of one's individuality; I say the 
doctrine of service, which is the greatest 
that Christ preached and is the sacred key- 
note of his mission — as far as that is con- 
cerned, Bushido is based on eternal truth. 

My readers will not accuse me of undue 
prejudice in favor of slavish surrender of 
volition. I accept in a large measure the 
view advanced with breadth of learning and 
defended with profundity of thought by 
Hegel, that history is the unfolding and 
realization of freedom. The point I wish to 
make is that the whole teaching of Bushido 
was so tjioroughly imbued with the spirit of 
self-sacrifice , that it was required not only of 
woman but of man. Hence, until the 
influence of its Precepts is entirely done 
away with, our society will not realize the 
view rashly expressed by an American 


exponent of woman's rights, who exclaimed, 
** May all the daughters of Japan rise in 
revolt against ancient customs ! " Can such 
a revolt succeed ? Will it improve the 
female status ? Will the rights they gain by 
such a summary process repay the loss of 
that sweetness of disposition, that gentleness 
of manner, which are their present heritage ? 
Was not the loss of domesticity on the part 
of Roman matrons followed by moral cor- 
ruption too gross to mention ? Can the 
American reformer assure us that a revolt of 
■our daughters is the true course for their 
historical development to take ? These are 
grave questions. Changes must and will 
come without revolts ! In the meantime let 
us see whether the status of the fair sex 
under the Bushido regimen was really so 
bad as to justify a revolt. 

We hear much of the outward respect 
European knights paid to *' God and the 
ladies," — the incongruity of the two terms 
making Gibbon blush ; we are also told by 
Hal lam that the morality of Chivalry was 
coarse, that gallantry implied illicit love. 
The effect of Chivalry on the weaker vessel 


was food for reflection on the part of 
philosophers, M. Guizot contending that 
Feudahsm and Chivalry wrought wholesome 
influences, while Mr. Spencer tells us that 
in a militant society (and what is feudal 
society if not militant?) the position of 
woman is necessarily low, improving only 
as society becomes more industrial. Now 
is M. Guizot's theory true of Japan, or is 
Mr. Spencer's ? In reply I might aver that 
both are right. The military class in Japan 
was restricted to the samurai, comprising 
nearly 2,000,000 souls. Above them were 
the military nobles, the dainiio^ and the court 
nobles, the kiige^ — these higher, sybaritical 
nobles being fighters only in name. Below 
them were masses of the common people — 
mechanics, tradesmen, and peasants — whose 
life was devoted to arts of peace. Thus 
what Herbert Spencer gives as the charac- 
teristics of a militant type of society may 
be said to have been exclusively confined 
to the samurai class, while those of the 
industrial type were applicable to the classes 
above and below it. This is well illustrated 
by the position of woman ; for in no class 


did she experience less freedom than among 
the samurai. Strange to say, the lower the 
social class — as, for instance, among small 
artisans — the more equal was the position 
•of husband and wife. Among the higher 
nobility, too, the difference in the relations of 
the sexes was less marked, chiefly because 
there were few occasions to bring the differ- 
ences of sex into prominence, the leisurely 
nobleman having become literally effeminate. 
Thus Spencer's dictum was fully exempHfied 
in Old Japan. As to Guizot's, those who 
read his presentation of a feudal community 
will remember that he had the higher 
nobility especially under consideration, so 
that his generalization applies to the daimio 
and the kuge, 

I shall be guilty of gross injustice to 
historical truth if my words give one a very 
low opinion of the status of woman under 
Bushido, I do not hesitate to state that 
she was not treated as man's equal ; but, 
juntil we learn to discriminate between 
difference and inequalities, there will always 
be misunderstandings upon this subject . 

When we think in how few respects men 


are equal among themselves, e. g.y before 
law courts or voting polls, it seems idle to 
trouble ourselves with a discussion on the 
equality of sexes. When the American 
Declaration of Independence said that all 
men were created equal, it had no reference 
to their mental or physical gifts : it simply 
repeated what Ulpian long ago announced, 
that before the law all men are equal. 
Legal rights were in this case the measure 
of their equality. Were the law the only 
scale by which to measure the position of 
woman in a community, it would be as easy 
to tell where she stands as to give her 
avoirdupois in pounds and ounces. But the 
question is : Is there a correct standard in 
comparing the relative social position of the 
sexes } Is it right, is it enough, to compare 
woman's status to man's as the value of 
silver is compared with that of gold, and 
give the ratio numerically } Such a method 
of calculation excludes from consideration 
the most important kind of value which a 
human being possesses; namely, the intrinsic. 
In view of the manifold variety of requisites 
for making each sex fulfil its earthly mission^ 


tlic standard to be adopted in measuring its 
relative position must be of a composite 
character; or, to borrow from economic 
language, it must be a multiple standard. 
Bushido had a standard of its own and it 
was binomial . It tried to guage the value 
of woman on the battle-field and by the 
hearth. There she counted for very little ; 
here for all. The treatment accorded her 
corresponded to this double measurement; — 
as a social-political unit not much, while 
as wife and mother she received hisfhest 
respect and deepest affection. Why among 
so military a nation as the Romans, were 
their matrons so highly venerated.? Was it 
not because they were matrona^ mothers ? 
Not as fighters or law-givers, but as their 
mothers did men bow before them. So 
with us. While fathers and husbands were 
absent in field or camp, the government of 
the household was left entirely in the hands 
of mothers and wives. The education of the 
young, even their defence, was entrusted to 
them. Th e warlike exercises of women, of 
which I have spoken, were primarily to 
enable them intelligently to direct and 


follovv the education of their children^ 

I have noticed a rather superficial notion 
prevailing among half-informed foreigners, 
that because the common Japanese expres- 
sion for one's wife is " my rustic wife " and 
the like, she is despised and held in little 
esteem. When it is told that such phrases 
as " my foolish father," " my swinish son," 
**my awkward self," etc., are in current use, 
is not the answer clear enough ? 

To mc it seems that our idea of marital 
union goes in some ways further than the 
so-called Christian. *'Man and woman shall 
be one flesh." The individualism of the 
Anglo-Saxon cannot let go of the idea that 
husband and wife are two persons; — hence 
when they disagree, their separate rights 
are recognized, and when they agree, they 
exhaust their vocabulary in all sorts of silly 
pet-names and nonsensical blandishments. 
It sounds highly irrational to our ears, when 
a husband or wife speaks to a third party 
of his other half— better or worse — as being 
lovely, bright, kind, and what not. Is it 
good taste to speak of one's self as *'my 
bright self," " my lovely disposition," and 


so forth ? We think praising- one's own wife 
or one's own husband is praising a part ol 
one's own self, and self-praise is regarded, to 
say the least, as bad taste among us, — and I 
hope, among Christian nations too ! I have 
diverged at some length because the polite 
debasement of one's consort was a usage 
most in vogue among the samurai. 

The Teutonic races beginning their tribal 
life with a superstitious awe of the fair sex 
(though this is really wearing off in Ger- 
many !), and the Americans beginning their 
social life under the painful consciousness 
of the numerical insufficiency of women* 
(who, now increasing, are, I am afraid, fast 
losing the prestige their colonial mothers 
enjoyed), the respect man pays to woman 
has in Western civilization become the chief 
standard of morality. But in the martial 
ethics of Bushido, the main water-shed 
dividing the good and the bad was sought 
elsewhere. It was located along the line 
of duty which bound man to his own divine 

* I refer to those days when girls were imported from 
England and given in marriage for so many pounds of 
tobacco, etc. 


soul and then to other souls, in the five 
relations I have mentioned in the early part 
of this p^iper. Of these we have brought 
to our reader's notice, Loyalty, the relation 
between one man as vassal and another as 
lord. Upon the rest, I have only dwelt 
incidentally as occasion presented itself;, 
because they were not peculiar to Bushido. 
Being founded on natural affections, they 
could but be common to all mankind,. 
thou[Th in some particulars they may have 
been accentuated by conditions which its 
teachings induced. In this connection, there 
comes before me the peculiar strength and 
tenderness of friendship between man and 
man, which often added to the bond of 
brotherhood a romantic attachment doubt- 
less intensified by the separation of the 
sexes in youth, — a separation which denied 
to affection the natural channel open to it in 
Western chivalry or in the free intercourse of 
Anglo-Saxon lands. I might fill pages with 
Japanese versions of the story of Damon and 
Pythias or Achilles and Patroclos, or tell in 
Bushido parlance of ties as sympathetic as 
those which bound David and Jonathan. 


It is not surprising, however, that the 
virtues and teachings unique in the Precepts 
of Knighthood did not remain circumscribed 
to the mihtary class. This makes us hasten 
to the consideration of 


on the nation at large. 

We have brought into view only a few of 
the more prominent peaks which rise above 
the range of knightly virtues, in themselves 
so much more elevated than the general 
level of our national life. As the sun in its 
rising first tips the highest peaks with russet 
hue, and then gradually casts its rays on 
the valley below, so the ethical system 
which first enlightened the military order 
drew in course of time followers from 
amongst the masses. Democracy raises up 
a natural prince for its leader, and aris- 
tocracy infuses a princely spirit among the 
people. Virtues are no less contagious 
than vices. " There needs but one wise 
man in a company, and all are wise, so 
rapid is the contagion," says Emerson. No 


-social class or caste can resist the diffusive 
power of moral influence. 

Prate as we may of the triumphant march 
of Anglo-Saxon liberty, rarely has it re- 
ceived impetus from the masses. Was it 
not rather the work of the squrres and 
gentlemen ? Very truly does M. Taine say, 
** These three syllables, as used across the 
channel, summarize the history of English 
■society." Democracy may make self-con- 
fident retorts to such a statement and fling 
back the question — "When Adam delved 
and Eve span, where then was the gentle- 
man ? " All the more pity that a gentleman 
•was not present in Eden ! The first parents 
missed him sorely and paid a high price for 
his absence. Had he been there, not only 
would the garden have been more tastefully 
dressed, but they would have learned with- 
out painful experience that disobedience 
to Jehovah was disloyalty and dishonor, 
treason and rebellion. 

What Japan was she owed to the samu- 
rai. They were not only the flower of 
the nation but its root as well. All the 
.gracious gifts of Heaven flowed through 


them. Thougli they kept themselves social- 
ly aloof from the populace, they set a moral 
standard for them and guided them by their 
example. I admit Bushido had its esoteric 
and exoteric jteaching;sj these were eude - 
monistic , looking after the welfare and happi- ^ 
ness of the commonalty , while those were 
aretaic, emphasizing the practice of virtues 
for their own sake . 

In the most chivalrous days of Europe,. 
Knights formed numerically but a small 
fraction of the population, but, as Emerson 
says — ** In English Literature half the drama 
and all the novels, from Sir Philip Sidney 
to Sir Walter Scott, paint this figure (gentle- 
man)." Write in place of Sidney and Scott, 
Chikamatsu and Bakin, and you have in a 
nutshell the main features of the literary 
history of Japan. 

The innumerable avenues of popular 
amusement and instruction — the theatres,, 
the story-teller's booths, the preacher's dais, 
the musical recitations, the novels — have 
taken for their chief theme the stories of 
the samurai. The peasants round the open 
fire in their huts never tire of repeating the 


achievements of Yoshitsune and his faithful 
retainer Benkei, or of the two brave Soga 
brothers ; the dusky urchins Hsten with 
gaping mouths until the last stick burns 
out and the fire dies in its embers, still 
leaving their hearts aglow with the tale 
that is told. The clerks and the shop-boys, 
after their day's work is over and the 
amado"^ of the store are closed, gather to- 
gether to relate the story of Nobunaga and 
Ilideyoshi far into the night, until slumber 
overtakes their weary eyes and transports 
them from the drudgery of the counter to 
the exploits of the field. The very babe just 
beginning to toddle is taught to lisp the 
adventures of Momotaro, the daring con- 
queror of ogre-land. Even girls arc so 
imbued with the love of knightly deeds 
and virtues that, like Desdemona, they would 
seriously incline to devour with greedy ear 
the romance of the samurai. 

The samurai grew to be the beait, ideal ot 

the whole race. " As among flowers the 

cherry is queen, so among men the samurai 

is lord," so sang the populace. Debarred 

♦ Outside shutters. 


from commercial pursuits, the military class 
itself did not aid commerce ; but there was 
no channel of human activity, no avenue 
of thought, which did not receive in some 
measure an impetus from Bushido. Intel- 
lectual and moral Japan was directly or 
indirectly the work of Knighthood. 

Mr. Mallock , in his exceedingly sug- 
gestive book, ** Aristocracy and Evolution," 
has eloquently told us that " social evolu - 
tion, in so far as it is other than biological, 
may be defined as the unintended resu lt of 
the intentions of great men ; " further, that 
historical progress is produced by a struggle 
* ' not among the community generally , to 
live, but a struggle amongst a small section 
of the community to lead , to direct, to 
employ, the majority in the best way." 
Whatever may be said about the soundness 
of his argument, these statements are amply 
verified in the part played by bushi in the 
social progress, as far as it went, of our 

How the spirit of Bushido permeated all 
social classes is also shown in the develop- 
ment of a certain order of men, known as 


otoho-datey the natural leaders of democracy. 
Staunch fellows were they, every inch ot 
them strong with the strength of massive 
-manhood. At once the spokesmen and the 
guardians of popular rights, they had each 
a following of hundreds and thousands of 
souls who proferred in the same fashion 
that samurai did to daimio, the willing 
service of " limb and life, of body, chattels 
and earthly honor." Backed by a vast 
multitude of rash and impetuous working- 
men, these born " bosses " formed a formi- 
dable check to the rampancy of the two- 
sworded order. 

In manifold ways has Bushido filtered 
down from the social class where it orig- 
inated, and acted as leaven among the 
masses, furnishing a moral standard for the 
whole people. The Precepts of Knighthood , 
begun at first as the glory of the elite, be- 
came in time an aspiration and inspiration 
to the nation at large ; and though the 
populace could not attain the moral height 
of those loftier souls, yet Yainato Damashii, 
the Soul of Japan, ultimately came to express 
the Volksgeist of the Island Realm. If 


religion is no more than " Morality touched 
by emotion," as Matthew Arnold defines 
it, few ethical systems are better entitled 
to the rank of religion than Bushido. Mo- 
toori has put the mute utterance of the 
nation into words when he sings :-^ 

" Isles of blest Japan ! 

Should your Yamato spirit 
Strangers seek to scan, 

Say — scenting morn's sun-lit air. 
Blows the cherry wild and fair ! ** 

Yes, the sakura"^ has for ages been the 
favorite of our people and the emblem of 
our character. Mark particularly the terms 
of definition which the poet uses, the words 
the zvild cherry flower scenting the morning 

The Yamato spirit is not a tame, tender 
plant, but a wild — in the sense of natural — 
growth ; it is indigenous to the soil ; its 
accidental qualities it may share with the 
flowers of other lands, but in its essence it 
remains the original, spontaneous outgrowth 
of our chme. But its nativity is not its sole 
claim to our affection. The refinement and 

♦ Cerasus pseiido-cerasus^ Lindley. 


£^race ol its beauty appeal to our aesthetic 
sense as no other flower can. We cannot 
share the admiration of the Europeans for 
their roses, which lack the simplicity of our 
flower. Then, too, the thorns that are 
hidden beneath the sweetness of the rose, 
the tenacity with which she clings to life, as 
though loth or afraid to die rather than drop 
untimely, preferring to rot on her stem ; her 
showy colors and heavy odors — all these are 
traits so unlike our flower, which carries no 
dagger or poison under Its beauty, which is 
ever ready to depart life at the call of nature, 
whose colors are never gorgeous, and whose 
light fragrance never palls. Beauty of color 
and of form is limited in its showing ; it is a 
fixed quality of existence, whereas fragrance 
is volatile, ethereal as the breathing of life. 
So in all religious ceremonies frankincense 
and myrrh play a prominent part. There 
is something spirituelle in redolence. When 
the delicious perfume of the sakiira quickens 
the morning air, as the sun in its course 
rises to illumine first the isles of the Far 
East, few sensations are more serenely 
exhilarating than to inhale, as it were, 


the very breath of beauteous day. 

When the Creator himself is pictured as 
making new resolutions in his heart upon 
smelling a sweet savor (Gen. VIII, 21), is it 
any wonder that the sweet-smelling- season 
of the cherry blossom should call forth the 
whole nation from their little habitations? 
Blame them not, if for a time their limbs 
forget their toil and moil and their hearts 
their pangs and sorrows. Their brief pleas- 
ure ended, they return to their daily tasks 
with new strength and new resolutions. 
Thus in ways more than one is the sakura 
the flower of the nation. 

Is, then, this flower, so sweet and eva- 
nescent, blown whithersoever the wind 
hsteth, and, shedding a puft' of perfume, 
ready to vanish forever, is this flower the 
type of the Yamato spirit ? Is the Soul of 
Japan so frailly mortal ? 


Or has Western civilization, in its march 
through the land, already wiped out every 
trace of its ancient discipline.^ 


It were a sad thing if a nation's soul could 
die so fast. That were a poor soul that 
could succumb so easily to extraneous 
influences. The aggregate of psychological 
elements which constitute a national char- 
acter, is as tenacious as the "irreducible 
elements of species, of the fins of fish, of the 
beak of the bird, of the tooth of the carniv- 
orous animal." In his recent book, full of 
shallow asseverations and brilliant gen- 
eralizations, M. LeBon^ says, " The dis- 
coveries due to the intelligence are the 
common patrimony of humanity; qualities 
or defects of character constitute the ex- 
clusive patrimony of each people : they are 
the firm rock which the waters must w^ash 
day by day. for centuries, before they can 
wear away even its external asperities." 
These are strong words and would be 
highly worth pondering over, provided there 
were qualities and defects of character 
which constitute the exclusive patriino7iy of 
each people. Schematizing theories of this 
sort had been advanced long before LeBon 
began to write his book, and they were 

* The Psychology of Peoples, p. 33. 

■exploded long ago by Theodor Waitz and 
Hugh Murray. In studying the various 
virtues instilled by Bushido, we have drawn 
upon European sources for comparison and 
illustrations, and we have seen that no one 
quality of character was its exclusive pat- 
rimony. It is true the aggregate of moral 
•qualities presents a quite unique aspect. 
It is this aggregate which Emerson names 
ci " compound result into which every great 
force enters as an ingredient." But, instead 
of making it, as LeBon does, an exclusive 
patrimony of a race or people, the Concord 
philosopher calls it " an element which 
imites the most forcible persons of every 
country ; makes them intelligible and agree- 
able to each other; and is somewhat so 
precise that it is at once felt if an individual 
lack the Masonic sign." 

The character which Bushido stamped on 
our nation and on the samurai in particular, 
cannot be said to form ** an irreducible 
element of species," but nevertheless as to 
the vitality which it retains there is no 
doubt. Were Bushido a mere physical 
force, the momentum it has gained in the 


last seven hundred years could not stop so- 
abruptly. Were it transmitted only by 
heredity, its influence must be immensely 
widespread. Just think, as M. Cheysson, a 
French economist, has calculated, that sup- 
posing there be three generations in a 
century, '* each of us would have in his- 
veins the blood of at least twenty millions 
of the people living in the year looo A. D." 
The merest peasant that grubs the soil, 
"bowed 'by the weight of centuries," has 
in his veins the blood of ages, and is thus 
a brother to us as much as *' to the ox." 

An unconscious and irresistible power,. 
Bushido has been moving the nation and 
individuals. It was an honest confession of 
the race when Yoshida Shoin, one of the 
most brilliant pioneers of Modern Japan,, 
wrote on the eve of his execution the follow- 
ing stanza ; — 

" Full well I knew this course must end in death ; 
It was Yamato spirit urged me on 
To dare whate'er betide." 

Unformulated, Bushido was and still is 
the animating spirit, the motor force of our 


Mr. Ransome says that ** there are three 
distinct Japans in existence side by side to- 
day, — the old, which has not wholly died 
out; the new, hardly yet born except in 
spirit; and the transition, passing now 
through its most critical throes." While 
this is very true in most respects, and par- 
ticularly as regards tangible and concrete 
institutions, the statement, as applied 
to fundamental ethical notions, requires 
some modification ; for Bushido, the maker 
and product of Old Japan, is still the 
guiding principle of the transition and 
will prove the formative force of the new 

The great statesmen who steered the ship 
of our state through the hurricane of the 
Restoration and the whirlpool of national 
rejuvenation, were men who knew no other 
moral teaching than the Precepts of Knight- 
hood. Some writers* have lately tried to 
prove that the Christian missionaries con- 
tributed an appreciable quota to the making 

* Speer : Missions and Politics in Asia, Lecture IV, pp. 
189- 1 go ; Dennis : Christian Missions and Social Progress^ 
Vol, I, p. 32, Vol. II, p. 70, etc. 


of New Japan. I would fain render honor 
to whom honor is due : but this honor can 
hardly be accorded to the good missonaries. 
More fitting it will be to their profession to 
stick to the scriptural injunction of prefer- 
ring one another in honor, than to advance 
a claim in which they have no proofs to 
back them. For myself, I believe that 
Christian missionaries are doing great things 
for Japan — in the domain of education, and 
especially of moral education : — only, the 
mysterious though not the less certain 
working of the Spirit is still hidden in 
divine secrecy. Whatever they do is still 
of indirect effect. . No, as yet Christian 
missions have effected but little visible in 
moulding the character of New Japan. No, 
it wa s Bushido , pure and simple, that urged 
us on for weal or woe. Open the biogra- 
phies of the makers of Modern Japan — of 
Sakuma, of Saigo, of Okiibo, of Kido, not 
to mention the reminiscences of living men 
such as Ito, Okuma, Itagaki, etc. : — and you 
will find that it was under the impetus of 
samuraihood that they thought and wrought. 
When Mr. Henry Norman declared, after 


his study and observation of the Far East,* 
that only the respect in which Japan differed 
from other oriental despotisms lay in "the 
ruling influence among her people of the 
strictest, loftiest, and the most punctilious 
codes of honor that man has ever devised," 
he touched the main spring which has made 
new Japan what she is and which will make 
her what she is destined to be. 

The transformation of Japan is a fact 
patent to the whole world. In a work of 
such magnitude various motives naturally 
entered ; but if one were to name the 
principal, one would not hesitate to name 
Bushido. When we opened the whole 
country to foreign trade, when we intro- 
duced the latest improvements in every 
department of life, when we began to study 
Western politics and sciences, our guiding 
motive was not the development of our 
physical resources and the increase of 
wealth ; much less was it a blind imitation 
of Western customs. A close observer of 
oriental institutions and peoples has written : 
— "We are told every day how Europe 

* The Far East, p. 375. 

has influenced Japan, and forget that the 
change in those islands was entirely self- 
generated, that Europeans did not teach 
Japan, but that Japan of herself chose to 
learn from Europe methods of organization,. 
civil and military, which have so far proved 
successful. She imported European me- 
chanical science, as the Turks years before 
imported European artillery. That is not 
exactly influence," continues Mr. Townsend, 
** unless, indeed, England is influenced by 
purchasing tea of China. Where is the 
European apostle," asks our author, " or 
philosopher or statesman or agitator who 
has re-made Japan .-* "* Mr. Townsend has 
well perceived that the spring of action 
which brought about the changes in Japan 
lay entirely within our own selves ; and if 
he had only probed into our psychology,, 
his keen powers of observation would easily 
have convinced him that that spring was no 
other than Bushido. The sense of honor 
which cannot bear being looked down upon 
as an inferior power, — that was the strongest 

* Meredith Townsend, Asia and EtiroJ>f, N. Y,, 1900^ 


of motives. Pecuniary or industrial con- 
siderations were awakened later in the 
process of transformation. 

The influence of Bushido is still so 
palpable that he who runs may read. A 
glimpse into Japanese life will make it 
manifest. Read Hearn, the most eloquent 
and truthful interpreter of the Japanese 
mind, and you see the working of that 
mind to be an example of the working of 
Bushido. The universal politeness of the 
people, which is the legacy of knightly 
ways, is too well known to be repeated 
anew. The physical endurance, fortitude 
and bravery that " the little Jap " possesses, 
were sufficiently proved in the China- 
Japanese war.^ " Is there any nation more 
loyal and patriotic.-'" is a question asked by 
many ; and for the proud answer, ** There 
is not," we must thank the Precepts of 

On the other hand, it is fair to recognize 
that for the very faults and defects of our 
character, Bushido is largely responsible. 

* Among other works on the subject, read Eastlake and 
Yamada on Heroic Japan, and Diosy on The New Far East, 


'Our lack of abstruse philosophy — while 
some of our young men have already gained 
international reputation in scientific re- 
searches, not one has achieved anything 
in philosophical lines — is traceable to the 
neglect of metaphysical training under 
Bushido's regimen of education. Our sense 
•of honor is responsible for our exaggerated 
sensitiveness and touchiness ; and if there is 
the conceit in us with which some foreigners 
charge us, that, too, is a pathological 
■outcome of honor. 

Have you seen in your tour of Japan 
many a young man with unkempt hair, 
dressed in shabbiest garb, carrying in his 
hand a large cane or a book, stalking about 
the streets with an air of utter indifference 
to mundane things } He is the sJiosei 
(student), to whom the earth is too small 
and the Heavens are not high enough. He 
has his own theories of the universe and of 
life. He dwells in castles of air and feeds 
on ethereal words of wisdom. In his eyes 
beams the fire of ambition ; his mind is 
athirst for knowledge. Penury is only a 
•stimulus to drive him onward; worldly goods 


are in his sight shackles to his character.. 
He is the repository of Loyalty and Patriot- 
ism. He is the self-imposed guardian of 
national honor. With all his virtues and his 
faults, he is the last fragment of Bushido. 

Deep-rooted and powerful as is still the 
effect of Bushido, I have said that it is an 
unconscious and mute influence. The heart 
of the people responds, without knowing the 
reason why, to any appeal made to what it 
has inherited, and hence the same moral 
idea expressed in a newly translated term- 
and in an old Bushido term, has a vastly 
different degree of efficacy. A backsliding 
Christian, whom no pastoral persuasion could 
help from downward tendency, was reverted 
from his course by an appeal made to his 
loyalty, the fidelity he once swore to his 
Master. The word '^ Loyalty " revived all 
the noble sentiments that were permitted to 
grow lukewarm. A band of unruly youths 
engaged in a long continued " students* 
strike " in a college, on account of their 
dissatisfaction with a certain teacher, dis- 
banded at two simple questions put by the 
Director, — ** Is your professor a blameless 


character? If so, you ought to respect him 
and keep him in the school. Is he weak ? 
If so, it is not manly to push a falling man." 
The scientific incapacity of the professor, 
which was the beginning of the trouble, 
dwindled into insignificance in comparison 
with the moral issues hinted at. By arousing 
the sentiments nurtured by Bushido, moral 
renovation of great magnitude can be ac- 

One cause of the failure of mission work is 
that most of the missionaries are grossly 
ignorant of our history — " What do we care 
for heathen records?" some say — and 
consequently estrange their religion from the 
habits of thought we and our forefathers 
have been accustomed to for centuries past. 
Mocking a nation's history ! — as though the 
career of any people — even of the lowest 
African savages possessing no record — were 
not a i^age in the general history of mankind, 
written by the hand of God Himself The 
very lost races are a palimpsest to be deci- 
phered by a seeing eye. To a philosophic 
and pious mind, the races themselves are 
.marks of Divine chirography clearly traced 


in black and white as on their skin ; and if 
this simile holds good, the yellow race forms 
a precious page inscribed in hieroglyphics 
of gold ! Ignoring the past career of a 
people, missionaries claim that Christianity 
is a new religion, whereas, to my mind, it is 
an *' old, old story," which, if presented 
in intelligible words, — that is to say, if 
expressed in the vocabulary familiar in the 
moral development of a people — will find 
easy lodgment in their hearts, irrespective 
of race or nationality, Christianity in its 
American or English form — with more ot 
Anglo-Saxon freaks and fancies than grace 
and purity of its founder — is a poor scion 
to graft on Bushido stock. Should the 
propagator of the new faith uproot the 
entire stock, root and branches, and plant 
the seeds of the Gospel on the ravaged soil ? 
Such a heroic process may be possible — in 
Hawaii, where, it is alleged, the church 
militant had complete success in amassing 
spoils of wealth itself, and in annihilating 
the aboriginal race : such a process is most 
decidedly impossible in Japan — nay, it is 
a process which Jesus himself would never 


have employed in founding his kingdom on 
earth. It behooves us to take more to heart 
the following words of a saintly man, devout 
Christian and profound scholar: — " Men have 
divided the world into heathen and Chris- 
tian, without considering how much good 
may have been hidden in the one, or how 
much evil may have been mingled with 
the other. They have compared the ibest 
part of themselves with the worst of their 
neighbors, the ideal of Christianity with 
the corruption of Greece or the East. They 
have not aimed at impartiality, but have 
been contented to accumulate all that could 
be said in praise of their own, and in 
dispraise of other forms of religion."* 

But, whatever may be the error committed 
by individuals, there is little doubt that the 
fundamental principle of the religion they 
profess is a power which we must take into- 
account in reckoning 


tvhose days seem to be already numbered^ 

* Jowett, Sermons on Faith and Doctrine, II 

Ominous sl^ns are in the air, that betoken 
its future. Not only signs, but redoubtable 
forces are at work to threaten it. 

Few historical comparisons can be more 
judiciously made than between the Chivalry 
of Europe and the Bushido of Japan, and, 
if history repeats itself, it certainly will do 
with the fate of the latter what it did with 
that of the former. The particular and 
local causes for the decay of Chivalry which 
St. Palayc gives, have, of course, little 
application to Japanese conditions; but the 
larger and more general causes that helped 
to undermine Knighthood and Chivalry in 
and after the Middle Ages are as surely 
working for the decline of Bushido. 

One remarkable difference between the 
experience of Europe and of Japan is, that , 
whereas in Europe when Chivalry was 
weaned from Feudalism and was adopted 
by the Church, it obtained a fresh lease of 
life, in Japan no religion was large enough 
to nourish i t ; hence , when the mother 
institution , Feudalism , was gone, Bushido, 
left an orphan, had to shift for itself The 
present elaborate military organization might 


take it under its patronage, but we know 
that modern warfare can afford little room 
for its continuous growth. Shintoism, which 
fostered it in its infancy, is itself superannu- 
ated. The hoary sages of ancient China 
are being supplanted by the intellectual 
parvenu of the type of Bentham and Mill. 
Moral theories of a comfortable kind, flatter- 
ing to the Chauvinistic tendencies of the 
time, and therefore thought well-adapted 
to the need of this day, have been invented 
and propounded ; but as yet we hear only 
their shrill voices echoing through the 
columns of yellow journalism . 

Principalities and powers arc arrayed 
against the Precepts of Knighthood. Al- 
ready, as Veblen says, " the decay of the 
ceremonial code — or, as it is otherwise 
called, the vulgarization of life — among the 
industrial classes proper, has become one of 
the chief enormities of latter-day civilization 
in the eyes of all persons of delicate sensi- 
bilities." The irresistible tide of triumphant 
democracy, which can tolerate no form or 
shape of trust — and Bushido was a trust 
organized by those who monopolized reserve 


capital of intellect and culture, fixing the 
grades and value of moral qualities — is 
alone powerful enough to engulf the remnant 
of Bushido. The present societary forces 
are antagonistic to petty class spirit, and 
Chivalry is, as Freeman severely criticizes, 
a class spirit T^ Modern society, if it pretends 
to any unity, cannot admit '* purely personal 
obligations devised in the interests of an 
exclusive class."^ Add to this the progress 
of popular instruction, of industrial arts and 
habits, of wealth and city-life, — then we can 
easily see that neither the keenest cuts of 
samurai's sword nor the sharpest shafts 
shot from Bushido's boldest bows can aught 
avail. The state built upon the rock of 
Honor and fortified by the same — shall we 
call it the Ehrenstaat or, after the manner 
of Carlyle, the Heroarchy ? — is fast falling 
into the hands of quibbling lawyers and 
gibbering politicians armed with logic-chop- 
ping engines of war. The words which a 
great thinker used in speaking of Theresa 
and Antigone may aptly be repeated of the 
samurai, that ''the medium in which their 
♦ Norman Conquest^ Vol. V, p. 482. '- 


ardent deeds took shape is forever gone." 

Alas for knightly virtues I alas for samurai 
pride ! Morality ushered into the world 
with the sound of bugles and drums, is 
destined to fade away as " the captains and 
the kings depart." 

If history can teach us anything, the state 
built on martial virtues — be it a city like 
Sparta or an Empire like Rome — can never 
make on earth a " continuing city." Uni- 
versal and natural as is the fighting instinct 
in man, fruitful as it has proved to be of 
noble sentiments and manly virtues, it does 
not comprehend the whole man. Beneath 
the instinct to fight there lurks a diviner 
instinct to love. We have seen that Shinto- 
ism, Mencius and Wan Yang Ming, have 
all clearly taught it; but Bushido and all 
other militant schools of ethics, engrossed, 
doubtless, with questions of immediate 
practical need, too often forgot duly to 
emphasize this fact. Life has grown larger 
in these latter times. Callings nobler and 
broader than a warrior's claim our attention 
to-day. With an enlarged view of life, 
with the growth of democracy, with better 

Icnovvledge of other peoples and nations, the 
Confucian idea of Benevolence — dare I also 
add the Buddhist idea of Pity ? — will expand 
into the Christian conception of Love. Men 
have become more than subjects, having 
grown to the estate of citizens : nay, they 
are more than citizens, being men. 

Though war clouds hang heavy upon our 
horizon, we will believe that the wings of 
the angel of peace can disperse them. The 
history of the world confirms the prophecy 
the " the meek shall inherit the earth." A 
nation that sells its birthright of peace, and 
backslides from the front rank of Industri- 
alism into the file of Filibusterism, makes 
a poor bargain indeed ! 

When the conditions of society are so 
changed that they have become not only 
adverse but hostile to Bushido, it is time for 
it to prepare for an honorable burial. It is 
just as difficult to point out when chivalry 
dies, as to determine the exact time of its 
inception. Dr. Miller says that Chivalry 
was formally abolished in the year 1559, 
when Henry II. of France was slain in a 
tournament. With us, the edict formally 


abolishing Feudalism in 1S70 was the signal 
to toll the knell of Bushido. The edict, 
issued five years later, prohibiting the wear- 
ing of swords, rang out the old, " the 
unbought grace of life, the cheap defence 
of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment 
and heroic enterprise," it rang in the new 
age of " sophisters, economists, and calcu- 

It has been said that Japan won her late 
war with China by means of Murata guns 
and Krupp cannon ; it has been said the 
victory was the work of a modern school 
system ; but these are less than half-truths. 
Does ever a piano, be it of the choicest 
workmanship of Ehrbar or Steinway, burst 
forth into the Rhapsodies of Liszt or the 
Sonatas of Beethoven, without a master's 
hand ? Or, if guns win battles, why did 
not Louis Napoleon beat the Prussians 
with his Mitrailleuse^ or the Spaniards 
with their Mausers the Filipinos, whose 
arms were no better than the old-fashioned 
Remingtons } Needless to repeat what has 
grown a trite saying that it is the spirit that 
quickeneth, without which the best of imple- 


ments profiteth but little. The most improved 
guns and cannon do not shoot of their own 
accord; the most modern educational system 
does not make a coward a hero. No! What 
won the battles on the Yalu, in Corea 
and Manchuria, was the ghosts of our 
fathers, guiding our hands and beating in 
our hearts. They are not dead, those 
ghosts, the spirits of our warlike ancestors. 
To those who have eyes to see, they are 
clearly visible. Scratch a Japanese of the 
most advanced ideas, and he will show a 
samurai. The great inheritance of honor, 
of valor and of all martial virtues is, as 
Professor Cramb very fitly expresses it, 
^'but ours on trust, the fief inalienable of 
the dead and of the generation to come," 
and the summons of the present is to guard 
this heritage, nor to bate one jot of the 
ancient spirit ; the summons of the future 
will be so to widen its scope as to apply it 
in all walks and relations of life. 

It has been predicted — and predictions 
liave been corroborated by the events of the 
last half century — that the moral system 
of Feudal Japan, hke its castles and its 


armories, will crumble into dust, and new 
ethics rise phoenix-like to lead New Japan 
in her path of progress. Desirable and 
probable as the fulfilment of such a prophe- 
cy is, we must not forget that a phoenix 
rises only from its own ashes, and that it is 
not a bird of passage, neither does it fly on 
pinions borrowed from other birds, " The 
Kingdom of God is within you." It does 
not come rolling down the mountains, how- 
ever lofty; it does not come sailing across 
the seas, however broad. " God has grant- 
ed," says the Koran, **to every people a 
prophet in its own tongue." The seeds of 
the Kingdom, as vouched for and appre^ 
hended by the Japanese mind, blossomed 
in Bushido. Now its days are closing — sad 
to say, before its full fruition — and we turn 
in every direction for other sources of 
sweetness and light, of strength and comfort, 
but among them there is as yet nothing 
found to take its place. The profit and loss 
philosophy of Utilitarians and Materialists 
finds favor among logic-choppers with half 
a soul. The only other ethical system 
which is powerful enough to cope with 


Utilitarianism and Materialism is Christiani- 
ty, in comparison with which Bushido, it 
must be confessed, is hke " a dimly burning 
wick" which the Messiah was proclaimed not 
to quench but to fan into a flame. Like His 
Hebrew precursors, the prophets — notably 
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Habakkuk — 
Bushido laid particular stress on the moral 
conduct of rulers and public men and of 
nations, whereas the Ethics of Christ, which 
deal almost solely with individuals and His 
personal followers, will find more and more 
practical application as individualism, in its 
capacity of a moral factor, grows in potency. 
The domineering, self-assertive, so-called 
master-morality of Nietsch e, itself akin in 
some respects to Bushido , is, if I am not 
greatly mistaken, a passing phase or tem- 
porary reaction against what he terms, by 
morbid distortion, the humble, self-denying 
slave-morality of the Nazarene. 

Christianity and Materialism (Including 
Utilitarianism) — or will the future reduce 
them to still more archaic forms of Hebraism 
and Hellenism ?— will divide the world be- 
tween them. Lesser systems of morals will 


ally themselves on either side for their 
preservation. On which side will Bushido 
enlist ? Having no set dogma or formula 
to defend, it can afford to disappear as an 
entity ; like the cherry blossom, it is willing 
to die at the first gust of the morning 
breeze. But a total extinction will never 
be its lot. Who can say that stoicism is 
dead .? It is dead as a system ; but it is 
alive as a virtue: its energy and vitality are 
still felt through many channels of life — in 
the philosophy of Western nations, in the 
jurisprudence of all the civilized world. 
Nay, wherever man struggles to raise 
himself above himself, wherever his spirit 
masters his flesh by his own exertions, there 
we see the immortal discipline of Zeno at 

Bushido as an independent code of ethics 
may vanish , but its power will not perish 
from the earth ; its schools of martial prowess 
or civic honor may be demolished, but its 
light and its glory will long survive their 
ruins. Like its symbolic flower, after it is 
blown to the four winds, it will still bless 
mankind with the perfume with which it 


will enrich life. Ages after, when its cus- 
tomaries shall have been buried and its 
very name forgotten, its odors will come 
floating in the air as from a far-off unseen 
hill, ** the wayside gaze beyond ;" — then in 
the beautiful language of the Quaker poet, 

*« The traveler owns the grateful sense 
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence^ 
And, pausing, takes with forehead bai^ 
The benediction of the air,'* 






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